Just Keep Swimming

This semester of A.Y. 2017-2018 has been rough for me. I experienced how to be spent emotionally, mentally, socially and financially for almost the whole semester and I thought I would never make it.

My phone fell and the screen cracked on the first day of the semester. My P.E. shoes broke and I couldn’t afford to buy a new one so I had to let go of my P.E. class. My laptop was broken as well so I had to borrow laptop from my friend, or sleepover their house so I can use their PC or laptop for my paperworks. I had to do my thesis on my phone with a cracked screen because hey, I need to get through this semester.

I was on the verge of a breakdown almost everyday, tired and worried and stressed out both due to academic and financial reasons.

Nothing in my life was stable. My friends were often busy, and I felt like I have become a nuissance because I had to borrow a laptop for paper works, or money if I ran out. My allowance would often come late because my mom’s salary would often be late. I was in a relationship where I have to pretend we are just friends in front of the people who matter. The thought of my mom losing her job was always hanging like a storm cloud over my head and I do not know what tomorrow will bring.

I would often have bad headaches due to lack of sleep and overthinking.

I wanted to give up.

It came to a point where I thought I was failing even when my scores are alright. I had more absences than I would have wanted because I am either sick, woke up late, got caught in traffic, or trying to catch up with the requirements from other subjects.

I would often be sad or cranky, or annoyingly very bubbly and I know that behind my hysterical laughter is a breakdown in the making.

It came to a point where I wanted something stable to hold on to, so I broke up with my “boyfriend” and asked him to be just friends. Something concrete and stable.

There were a lot of days I contemplated suicide. In between looking for possible part time jobs and considering stopping a year in school to help my mom with finances, I was contemplating just giving up. Walk in front of a truck or jump off a bridge or something.

I was spent body and soul and spirit I just wanted it all to stop.

I was drowning. But I kept on swimming.

And now I am one final written exam away from conquering this semester.

So just keep swimming.

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When you try your best but you don’t succeed…

Today, our midterm grades were released in Research Methodology and I/O Psychology subjects. The passing [transmuted] grade for major subjects such as those mentioned is 76. I got a 74.

And I could make excuses for myself such as summer classes use a different grading system than classes taken in the regular semesters, or I was high on antibiotics and suffering from acute pharyngitis during the major exams so I naturally got lower scores, or its okay there is still the finals, but that does not change the fact that I failed in a standardized-slash-objective evaluation of academic performance.

Does that make me a dunce? Probably not. Does it make me feel like crap? Definitely.

The fact that doing well regularly on a daily classroom discussion, actively participating when I am so afraid of speaking, and doing everything in my power to get decently high scores in quizzes are not enough to earn me a passing grade is simply devastating.

I always hear people talking about how the educational system in the Philippines doesn’t cater to the different, the creatives, and the “I need some time to process these information” type, but I never felt it in its full impact the way I did today.

I’ve always been good at being standardized. People often say I am intelligent when in fact, all I did was memorize a bunch of stuff that I will probably forget about in a month. So when I am in a situation where memorization is out of the question (disoriented from a sickness and the drugs prescribed for the cure), I obviously fail at it. And I hated it.

I hated the feeling I got while reading the questions in the test, knowing I read it somewhere in my notes, or remembered my professor mention something about it in class, but I can’t remember the term so I couldn’t give a proper answer. I hated knowing that if I wasn’t sick at that time I would have probably shined and even got an 86 or something.

Sadly, the grading system does not consider “Effort” as an objective criteria. There are no grades, no incentives or recognition for trying hard.

I realized that the educational system of the Philippines is designed for shaping and honing manufacturers. Blend in, do what society dictates is right and pleasing, do a good job and you will be considered a success. Here, there is no room for innovation and ingenuity. That is why most Filipino inventors sell their inventions to foreigners and those foreigners get the patent for it.

Here no one praises you for trying. Your value is dictated by the worth of the goods you produce. Your efforts do not matter, what’s important is the quality of your output. If you are slow in getting things done, you are already a failure and a nuissance.

Average is success in this country. If you go above the norm you are seen as a threat and people will try to pull you down. If you go below the norm, you will be de-valued and ridiculed for your incompetency.

Psychology should be about acknowledging the uniqueness of every human being, but psychologists are measured and trained to measure with a one-size-fits-all instrument.

The irony of things. We aim to measure the differences between our clients but we are gauged based on the distance of our deviation from the norm. We strive for culture-fair tests and fail miserably at considering that maybe, just maybe, standardization is not the key.

Constructivists argue that reality is subjective to each individual. What might be true for you might not be true for me.

Dearest standardized education, you might think that only those who get a certain score are qualified to pass. But we are all students learning at different paces and styles. Please do not normalize the curve. Surely there is a better way of evaluating a person’s achievement than stardized tests.

Then again, maybe I am just bitter about my grades.