How Life is Like a Poorly Maintained Road that you Swim Through… or a box of chocolates, or something like that…


My sister (the girl who stands a few inches taller than me and goes clubbing in Hull, but is secretly still 8 years old and it was practically yesterday that she was a terrorizing toddler and bit me on the cheek…) is waiting for her final grades for her first term at University.

She reads this blog… we’ll see what her reaction to it is, hopefully not a resurgence of biting.  To be on the safe side, I won’t be trusting her innocent overtures of a hug for the next few days.  Fool me once, shame on you…

She’s worried.  From what I can tell, her main worry is that, in the worst case scenario of this particular saga, we will be too kind.  “We” being all the people in the family who have graduated from university.  I think the worst case scenario that she is picturing is rather like the scene where the Death Star blows up, but also where Luke loses his hand, and maybe mix in a bit of that awkward scene when Han is trying to establish what kind of feelings Leia has for Luke, and she doesn’t reveal the whole ‘we’re siblings, and just love each other as siblings’ thing for a long while, thus creating awkward.  Just remember bloglanders – Twihards make trekkies and star wars fans look normal.

... and the winnner is... the woman who tattooed the characters of Twilight onto her whole back!

I see it more as a speedbump or pothole… just a brief slowing, possibly altering of direction.

... but not quite this big a speed bump...

When I went off to University, my dad told me this: “University is like a big party, but with work.  It’s a lot of fun, but you have to do enough work that you don’t get uninvited from the party.”

Doodle is worried that she might get uninvited.

She’s worried that she will disappoint us, but that we will be so nice about it that we will never tell her just how disappointed we are… and, for some reason, part of the concern is that I got through high school and University relatively unscathed.  She seems to think I have never failed at anything in my life.

What do I think?  That I was basically ‘pity passed’ through most of elementary school, which is fair enough considering I once submitted a picture of a horse instead of a book report.

That one of my university courses was such a haze of incomprehension, that I came home from the final exam and signed myself up for summer courses.  While crying.  I passed the course… barely.  It was my lowest grade since high school gym class.  Have I mentioned how terrible I am at things requiring hand-eye coordination?  There’s another pity pass.

That it took me two goes to pass both the G1 exit driving test and the G2 exit driving test.  I curled up in the back of my car on the way back from the first G2 driving test and sobbed for an hour in the parking lot of a Sobeys.  I also cried at the person testing me the second time around when he told me that I passed (and listed off all the reasons why it was a barely-pass, and all the things he decided not to count that could have made it a not-pass), which is why my current drivers’ license picture is really truly dreadful.  I look like a prison inmate who just finished watching Marley and Me.

I was sure that I would never move back home when I was done university… It’s been nearly three years, now.

I suffered in silence through nearly 6 months of my crazypants cubicle-wall-neighbour’s crazy prostitute-murdering, cuss-filled mutterings before I got up the nerve to tell my boss about it.  Finally telling my boss was a tearfully written email (too chicken to talk face to face) sent once I was sure he’d gone home for the weekend so that I could escape without any kind of conversation.

I'm just so... *sob*... angry!

This is not my pity party.  I have failed and been rather pathetic at a lot of things in my life.  I cry if I’m sad, at sad movies, if I’m angry, if someone’s angry at me, if I have to stand up for myself… all the time, really.  I really need to work on that.  The point is that, if you look back, overall it has been pretty successful despite the road bumps.  The point is that we are all thrown into the deep waters and expected to swim like Gertrude Ederle (first woman to swim across the English Channel) and achieve great things.  And that we are all, at one point or another, going to flounder (like she did, on her first attempt to cross), but that the important thing is that we’ll keep swimming eventually, with or without the help of a life buoy.

If it turns out that you are a December grad, what do you do?  Tread water for a while, shake it off, and then keep swimming.  Your final destination might change a bit, so might the swim itself, but it’ll still be a fantastic journey.

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4 Comments

  1. I thought it was a very nice, supportive post. Doodle should be happy and I’m sure she will do well!

    • I’ve got faith in her, and hopefully she’ll find out soon. I think the first exam period in university is definitely the most terrifying. It’s at that point that you realise that you only had two other assignments (the grades of which you haven’t gotten back, of course), and the final exam is worth a whopping 60% (or more!) of your final mark… really gives you that drop-kick in the face of ‘you’re not in highschool anymore!’

      • In grad school, I had only the final in each class to determine the grade. One three hour essay at that. It was stressful. I understand what poor Doodle is going through.

        You are a nice sister. 🙂

        • That would be terrifying! And you wouldn’t even have any previous submissions to figure out how the prof grades things, or what style he prefers. 😐
          My one prof told us that he didn’t give part marks – you either got the question (the entire question, parts A through N, worth 20% of the final exam) right, or you were wrong. as he put it – ‘you don’t get part marks in life’ – that was definitely a stressful exam, though he very clearly marked it with part-marks, thankfully.

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