The end of January meant a lot of things: the presidential address, the Super Bowl, the end of the first month of 2014. But for almost every high school student in America, none of those other things mattered because of what else happened, something so sinister that the mere mention of it sends chills down the adolescent spine. For one week, school halls filled to the brim with bleary-eyed, sweat pants-clad students aimlessly wandering around like zombies, nose buried in a study guide or textbook. That's right. It was finals week.
Of course, finals week may not be one of the worst things that could happen to a person, but it's definitely up there. The monumental amounts of pressure behind one single test irrecoverably transforming your grade is enough to make anyone hyperventilate. Add in hours upon hours of study guides and studying, and you've got a recipe for most high schoolers' worst nightmare. But possibly the worst part is the Waiting Phase, the phase between taking the test and finding out the magnitude of your failure. This phase is mostly spent sitting alone in the dark and refreshing the online gradebook every 30 seconds to see if any teachers have updated it (or, in my case, writing satirical articles about the matter in order to distract yourself). Personally, I find that like grief and post-breakup depression, coping with the Waiting Phase comes in seven stages:
1. SHOCK & DENIAL
There's no way that was the final. That was way too hard. Maybe there will be a curve? Like, a 50 percent curve? And besides, I'm sure she wouldn't give that difficult of a final without a curve. Really, she's never curved a test before, but this HAS to be an exception. And even if I did fail, I should be fine My grades may have been fluctuating more than Amanda Bynes's mental stability, but surely a bad grade on the final won't affect anything.
2. PAIN & GUILT
How could I have made European-history themed valentines day cards instead of actually studying? I knew about this final for months and yet I thought that watching three episodes of Pretty Little Liars the night before would be a good use of time. I may have come closer to finding out who killed Alison DiLaurentis, but I still have no clue how to utilize the Law of Sines. Maybe I should have made flash cards or actually studied the material instead of the boys across from us during that study session; maybe I should have actually read my text book in class instead of using it to hid the fact that I was playing (and losing at) Flappy Bird.
3. ANGER & BARGAINING
How could she do this to us? I'm a good person, I don't deserve this. And who gives a 150 question test in a two hour period? Satan, that's who. This must be a conspiracy; the teachers want us all to fail so that they can teach us in summer school! That must be it! Universe, if I could just have an A on this final, there will be no more distractions, just studying! Probably. Ok, until the next episode of Pretty Little Liars.
4. DEPRESSION & REFLECTION
I am a failure. My exponentially great grandfather did not risk his life to stow away on a ship leaving Poland 150 years ago just so that their exponentially great granddaughter could fail her finals. My mother did not engage in eight hours of grueling labor just so I could fail out of high school and live in her basement forever. I have brought shame to my family; maybe I should just commit social sepukku and wear a paper bag over my head to hide my shame.
5. THE UPWARD TURN
Well, at least some things went right. For instance, I successfully resisted the urge to burst out crying during the test, so I guess you could say I had mixed success.
6. RECONSTRUCTION & WORKING THROUGH
Even if I did do bad on the test, there's more to life than grades. Like food. And Netflix. Ice cream doesn't judge me for not knowing the Fundamental Theorem of Algebra. When Blair Waldorf had her admission from Yale rescinded, she picked herself up and threw herself right back into high society wearing increasingly fabulous, uber-classy outfits, and I should do the same.
7. ACCEPTANCE & HOPE
Really, life goes on no matter how I did on these tests. And these will certainly not be the last tests I ever take. I probably didn't do as bad as I thought. Maybe. And if I did, well, community college is a good option in this economy anyways.
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