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Monday, August 29, 2011

Performance Anxiety

That's the only thing I can come up with.  It was all performance anxiety.  And I wasn't even expected to really perform!

Let me backtrack a little.  Today was the first day of my second week of school.  It was also the first time we actually did any learning in class.  Up to this point, it's been, "You'll need these books."  And, "Let's go over the syllabus."  And we mustn't forget, "Here's how you set up your computer account so you can turn in your homework."  Last week was nuts & bolts week.  This week, it's time to get down to the business of learning.

I only had one class today, so it was a really easy day.  Or it should have been.  Is it my fault I misunderstood the instructor last week?  (Yes, I know it is, but please allow me a moment to pout anyway.)

I could have sworn he said something about the syllabus today.  I'm certain of it.  Which is why, although I went online to look at the PowerPoints, I didn't print them out.  I honestly didn't think we'd need them until our class on Wednesday.  I was wrong.

Performance anxiety.

Luckily, the stuff we were going over wasn't too tough.  It was, after all, only the first day of learning.  I paid close attention to the PowerPoint slides my instructor projected onto the screen (while silently cursing the fact I didn't print them out...grrrr...) and took careful notes in the spiral notebook I brought specifically for this purpose.

He'd go over information, then he'd ask us to do an example problem.  Then he'd go over more information, and then he'd ask us to do another example problem.  I started out okay.  Plotting points on a graph?  No problem.  Solving equations to find the plot points?  Easy-peasy.  Although, I'll admit to a slight stumble when I saw the absolute value symbols.  What did that mean again?  Oh.  Yeah.

But soon, all the knowledge just flew out of my head.  Saluted me smartly, waved buh-bye, and high-tailed it out of there.  Because every time I worked a problem, I arrived at an incorrect answer.  Or I'd forget how to perform the simplest operations.  Or I pressed to hard and broke my pencil.

Was it because I'd forgotten to eaten breakfast?  (I remembered when I was already halfway to school.  Damn...)  Or was it simple performance anxiety?

Did I choke?

"I'll let you try this one," my instructor said.  "You've got ten seconds."

Ten seconds! Gulp.  I tried.  God help me, I tried.  But suddenly that x- and y-intercept stuff may as well have been written in Greek.  Or Martian.  I tanked.

"Figure this one out," my instructor said of another problem.  "I'll give you twenty minutes."

Ahhhh.  Twenty minutes.  I've got this.  I breathed easier and went to work.

"Oops," he said, laughing.  "I meant twenty seconds."

WHAT???  I froze.  Tankarooni.

And then, there was one last problem.  Did I need to do the negative/positive thing?  Does that apply or do I have the parentheses in the wrong place?  I couldn't remember, so I did it both ways.  And still came up with the wrong answer.  Insert mental facepalm here.

I came home, printed all the PowerPoints I'd need for the unit--I wouldn't get caught with my pants down again, no sirree--and sat down to go over that last problem one more time.  No pressure.  No instructor standing at the front of the room.  No time limit. You know what?  I got the right answer on my first try.

I blame performance anxiety.


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