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How Motivating a C+ Can Be

February 26, 2013

I had a really productive day today, and I guess I should thank the T.A. who gave me a C+ on my Ethics paper. (Honestly a C+? Writing about ethics is my thing man! Well, I guess the C+ was called for…. I didn’t exactly answer the question and took a very… different approach to the whole thing. But seriously? I’ve been doing so well in school too! It ruined my A-streak.)

I woke up just before 8:30 in the morning and got right to work. First, I edited my music paper on Mozartean opera that I have to hand in tomorrow. After that, I edited my Jewish studies paper that’s due on Thursday evening. Then finally, I began the laborious task of rewriting my C+ paper. Thank God I have a chance to rewrite it. This time, I took the less risky route. I rewrote the whole dang thing and only borrowed one paragraph from the old paper. I think this is at least a solid B paper. Though, I didn’t enjoy it as much this time around and that’s usually an indicator of a good mark.

See, this weird thing always happens to me. Whenever I really, really enjoy writing a paper and think I did really, really well on it, it always turns out that I got like a B- or a C+. Seriously, the more I dislike or worry about a paper, the better I do. ALWAYS. And it’s always the case that I go from one extreme to another. I’ll go from getting straight A’s to BAM, a C+. Never anything in the middle, which is totally analogous to my life.

I had really enjoyed writing this C+ paper. I thought my argument was ingenious and that it was a well-crafted philosophical one. I had the philosophy voice man; I had it. I even preempted some rebuttals of my “opponents.” But alas, it was only worth a C+.

The Professor said we didn’t have to hand in the rewritten essay right away. As long as we hand it in before the semester is over, he will be fine with that. Well, I’ve finished it, and I’m handing it in tomorrow. That’s the thing with me: when something bothers me, I become obsessive about it. So better to get it done and out of the way, so I don’t have to think about it anymore.

Isn’t it weird how one grade/mark can make you feel like the whole world is coming to an end? I was pretty distraught last night. Even as I woke up this morning, I felt a little annoyed. But that was when the song “Give Your Heart a Break” (Demi Lovato) came on the radio. I don’t really relate to any thing in the song per se. It just has a great beat and tune; I liked it so much that I used to listen to it very often in May and September when I was living alone in Montreal in my New York-style apartment. So when the song came on the radio, I was instantly transported back to May and September in the apartment. I remembered how lonely I had felt and how unhappy I was studying what I was studying at that time. And in those moments of loneliness/unhappiness, I would put the iPod on the dock, turn this song way up, and start throwing myself – ahem, dancing around the apartment.

Hearing this song today put every thing into perspective. Who cares if I got a C+ on this paper? This always happens (see here for an awesome post on that), and it happens to the best of us. In fact, if you go through my giant tupperwear bin full of things I’ve kept over the years, you’ll find tons of letters I’ve written to myself all starting with, “So you just got a B- or C+….” Right then and there, I was reminded of the bajillion more awful things in the world; I was reminded that I’ve been through much worst. After the song ended, the paper came much easier to me.


I think the thing is: I just have to take things less personally. When I get a bad grade on a paper, I tend to take it as an insult to my writing. But I shouldn’t because it has never been about my writing; it’s always been what I wrote about. I always used to get papers back that said “Your writing is superb, but your content….” You get the point. Well, I guess that’s a good thing. At least I can write and get my points across. I just need to focus on… my points now.

Oh  no. A thought just occurred to me: I really enjoyed writing that paper on Mozartean opera. Uh oh….

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