Thursday, January 13, 2011

A Toast To Holism

Photo credit: keyseeker from

I've been stuffing my head with eight physiology chapters in preparation for my midterm exam. This is my first course evaluation of any sort, and it's worth a fairly biggish chunk of my final mark. This is also my first university level study. I'm spooked.

It's so crazy! I know I'm learning, and I'm pretty sure I'll pass. The mark shouldn't matter, but oh, it matters so much! Less than 90% is such a blow to my fragile academic esteem.

Things were so messed up for me that by the time I was in my teens, I was actually convinced that I was mentally handicapped, and everyone around me was covering it up by giving me passing grades at school. Really. I was really in that space. And I think I've never really, truly pulled myself entirely out of that pit. I have this double bind going on, whereby if I get 90%+, it's because the exam was too easy, or they asked the "wrong" questions, or I had some other big fluke. But if I don't meet the 90%, it's because I'm deficient and stupid.

Either way, it doesn't matter. I'm screwed.

The things we do to ourselves, huh?

So here I am, wrestling like Jacob with the Angel of Physiology, dislocating my brain in the process. I know it's a tough course by any standard, and I'm doing my damnedest to be sane in the midst. Trying to talk myself into good sense.

During these internal discussions I have flash-backs to high school. In particular I keep remembering a Home-Ec incident. We were making toast, for goodness' sake - toast! And at the end of the class I got my evaluation sheet back and she'd docked me 10% for not spreading the butter all the way to the very edges. I was staggered. Not only was she making us use butter (which I'd managed to equate with the devil and his minions, thanks to health class and living with a nurse in the 1970's), but she was insisting that I use a LOT of butter.

It wasn't really about butter, mind you. The central issue for me was the subjectivity of it all. She thought the butter should go to the edge, and I didn't. It shouldn't have been a matter for judgment. But she was the one with the power over my grades. What she said, went.

Somehow, over the course of years, I've completely internalized the rationale behind the marking system, and accepted the "grade" as a valid evaluation. But I know it's not. I KNOW that.

What I'm really learning isn't physiology. Or even acupuncture. I think what I'm really learning is how to be whole and not let other people steal bits of me.



Hey M,

Jacob, of course, wrestled and received a blessing. No doubt the same for you.


kate said...

True - all marking is subjective. And, speaking entirely objectively, you are one of the most scarily intelligent people I read. So there.
Good luck with the exam. ♥

Madcap said...

C, I'm hoping that the blessing will be both mine and my clients', that I'll find ways to incorporate it into my practice. And it really is great information - just too much at one blow!

Kate, you made me laugh! Thanks for the luck!

gfid said...

"learning ... how to be whole and not let other people steal bits of me." there it is, in a nutshell. encapsulated in a few words, as you have such a gift for doing..... i'm presently in the process of finding some of those bits, and, as gently as possible, taking them back.

marks - a conversation with a very dear and now departed friend when i was doing my business program went something like this

"Sweetie, do you know what they call the person with the lowest marks in medical school?"

"No, what do they call them?" thinking 'oh, they have some horrible medical name for loser'.

"they call 'em 'doctor', luv. Nobody asks for marks when you apply for a job. They just need to know you passed the course."

e4 said...

I don't have anything clever or intelligent to say. I just love this post.

Madcap said...

e4 - Always please when you visit, and thanks!

gfid - Yeah, I know. It's just the regular neurotic thing, huh?