Last week, I was feeling all right. Very stressed, but all right nonetheless. But today, I feel terrible again. After a weekend of not doing anything other than spending my time with my family, I return to college thinking about nothing except the homework that has mounted on my shoulders once again.
And then last night, my computer science TA/grader just realizes my worst nightmares: 13/20 for my first programming assignment. Furious, frustrated, and helpless, I just tumbled into bed at 11 pm, head hurting thinking of ways to get back at him, on the verge of crying, off to a sound sleep. My roommate was not helping, as he plays games during the day and then sometime during the night hits the books – but I never get to see that side of him (he gets all As); all I see him do is play some game on his laptop, yelling some things in Korean and clicking hard and fast.
And then I talk to him, and I take the quiz during his discussion session. Out of nervousness, I botch the time complexity proportionality questions, bringing me down to an 8/10 for my second quiz: exactly where I was on my first quiz.
After a while, he ends up giving back one point for finally seeing the instructor’s logic for allowing the use of a constant from an external class. But he seems adamant on not giving me back any of the points he stacked on one single method. I kept asking him why he deducted this or that, and why I’m penalized more points than if I had not written the method at all. I broke him; he can’t give an explanation for everything. Eventually, he tells me for why he deducted points on a nested class, even though there is absolutely no place on the rubric he is allowed to deduct points for that, nor any rule on the assignment stating that I can’t use nested classes within a method, “I don’t know… it just doesn’t… feel right.” So, it seems fairly clear my grader does not really know how to grade correctly.
Also, for my discrete math course, I botched two questions and another one is at the mercy of the grader, which probably brings me to an 85%. I probably failed that homework in a similar dramatic fashion.
This is extremely demoralizing: I am now scared of going to class. I’m scared of continuously failing, of continuously receiving homework, of never getting time for myself, of having to fulfill obligations and commitments I have regrettably decided to place myself in. And now, my anger and frustration is causing me to forget things so that I do not have to think about their implications for me.
Everything seems slower. When I was in high school, everything was simple and easy. Now there are so many points of failure that I can overlook so easily. Did I put my pajamas in the duffel bag for when I go home? Did I lock the door on my way out? Is there a flaw in my calculation or proof? Does it really work out?
When I search online, all the fault points to me, that I don’t study enough, that I need to talk to the professor more, that I need to just fail because I deserve to fail and failing is fine and it’s also totally fine to be stuck in college for five or six years. No, it’s not totally fine to be stuck in college for so long. I have a goal and I will get there. I had an A in each and every one of my classes in high school, and failing a class is absolutely unacceptable.
And here, it’s worse: if I fail a class, not only would I have wasted my parents’ money on the class, but I would also have wasted it on humiliating myself and pulling my hair out.
I hardly eat anymore, and my scalp is beginning to show. I don’t sleep enough because I worry too much about what will happen the next day and the day after that. I sweat uncontrollably from my hands.
As always, my mother tells me to pray, but I can’t pray when my mind is clouded with frustration. I need medical help, and I have been waiting for two weeks now. “Help” will finally “arrive” later this week for a short appointment. And if this does not lead me to the right path… then I’ll be on my last leg.