School, school, school . After many years of school (trust me, I have been in school longer than the average person), I can honestly attest that I hated writing tests. While some of my peers coasted through school with last-minute cramming, I was one of those who actually studied for tests. Our test scores were the ultimate arbiter of our worth as students and in many cases would follow us into the job market in order to prove our academic prowess to employers.
It feels like we are forever intertwined with our test scores.
A test – whether a driving test or a 100 question multiple choice exam on biochemical pathways- always gives me shivers. It is not uncommon for me to be overwhelmed with anxiety prior to and even during a test. I tell myself: am I really reduced to a statistic? Is my self-worth really determined by my performance on a 1-hour exam? The more I think about tests, the more I resent tests.
Later on in life, once we are far away from the echoes of the great halls of learning, we are faced with a new test. It’s called the test of life. As somebody who is still quite new to the corporate world, I feel challenged by the myriad of implicit rules I must navigate every day. The new test is really about how to survive in a world of business, colleagues with different personalities, and assignments which come with no instructions. The most important part of the test is being able to communicate with different types of people and maintaining poise when the world fails to see eye to eye with you. It is really a test of a person’s maturity. Many people will do fine on this test. But plenty will fail – miserably. The latter may have done well in school, but this new test is a whole different beast. Without the structured learning provided in school, some people will just never pass this test. They need a guardian to hold their hand. School never taught us how to communicate with difficult colleagues or how to complete tasks for which you have had little training in your background. But in the cruel reality of the world, there is really nobody but yourself to help you make sense of things that just do not make sense.
I think whoever does well on this test of life is truly a winner. And that’s more important than winning any academic accolades. The accolades will grow more distant with time, but a person’s maturity and poise will be with them for life.