So I felt pretty good about my preparation. I had kept to my schedule, more or less. I had kept current with questions, spent as much time as I needed to on special topics like acid/base, PV Loop, etc. And through all of this, I never felt too upset if I had to leave a page or two from each section for later, so that I could “come back to it when I had the time.”
And that’s exactly as it’s gone. There’s just one problem with this system: it fails in the last week. I never anticipated the change, but there came a point about a week before this coming test when I realized that every time I was reviewing something, it was the last time I was going to see it before the test. After spending two months looking over everything with a sort of focused laziness, I had set up a pretty stressful situation.
The reason I wanted to take so much time to prepare was to completely avoid this stress. Sigh.
So now, reviewing is an exercise in abuse. Oh yeah, I remember not remembering that fact that I’m not going to remember in a second or two. Hope to God that isn’t on the test. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
It’s the feeling of losing. I set out to hold everything in my head, and reviewing is just hammering home that no matter how much I prepared, it was just going to keep falling out, falling out. Every reread line re-remembered is testament.
I feel like I’ve stepped into the ring, seen my opponent, and gone four out of the five rounds. He’s stronger, faster, bigger. Through the blood, I can barely make out that he’s joking with his coach; that he’s not tired. The judges are looking at the girls with the placards, sharing cigars, not worrying about the last round since no effort on my part could change the ruling that is so cemented. I look at my coach.
“Coach, this fight is over. I can’t beat this guy. I’ve already lost.”
“I know, kid. But that doesn’t matter. Rules is rules. You have to fight the last round even if that means he kills you.”
With three days left, I stagger up. I slap my gloves together hoping the thud stirs some lost adrenaline. My legs change places not from heart, but from habit. I meet him in the middle and tense for the blow. The futility.