I had nightmares last night and as a result didn’t get much rest. I woke up late (meaning with just enough time to get to class on the dot.) My group partner in class texted me that he was going to be late. I have to run to print out our collaborative essay. Walking/running is going to take too long. I decide to use the tram.
The tram is late.
It’s also full. I squish into a spot where I have to stand. I haven’t had to stand on a bus in a while. I slightly lose my balance. People shoot mocking glances. For a moment, I’m self-conscious. Pedestrians keep getting in the way of the tram, slowing us down. We finally make it to the stop.
Cars whizz down the usually always empty street. I see an opening, take a chance and run.
I don’t stop running.
I reach the computer lab. It’s packed. I have to wait in line for the next available computer.
God, the screen takes forever to load.
The essay’s title isn’t centered. The font is not Times New Roman. It isn’t double spaced. It is not in MLA format. I don’t have time to fix this. It’s bothering me. I print it out quickly enough and shove it in my backpack as I’m walking out.
A group of giggling girls get in my way. Why do they have to zig-zag as they walk? I try to squeeze my way through. It’s as if they’re intent on blocking my path. I groan under my breath.
My class is now about 100 feet away.
I remember that we have a quiz. To the benefit of the class, it’s open book. However, I happened to forget my book this fine morning. I kind of wish I read the chapter…
My hand reaches the door. I open it. The professor is passing back a quiz we took two weeks ago. “Mercedes?” He asks. “I’m Mercedes.” I respond with an outstretched hand. He gives a passive grunt. I take a seat at an open desk.
I got 49/50 points on that quiz. I’m immediately infuriated. How could I be so stupid? This class is a joke. There’s no way I should have missed such a simple question. I should have gotten a perfect score. I’m a failure.
He passes out the new quiz. I scratch my name onto the page with such force that I cause the ink to run and bleed.
Then I see the kid sitting next to me has his book on his desk. It’s closed, and his brows are contorted in deep thought. He’s deliberately trying to see how much he can remember without using the book.
It’s all a game to him.
I don’t know if it was his expression, but I laugh. People look at me like I’m crazy, but I don’t care. I’m such an idiot. Why was I so angry? Why was I so worried? I was only 3 minutes late, and it’s a freaking open-book quiz. It essentially counts as much as a homework assignment. It’s not more important than my mental state. It’s not more important than realizing what a beautifully chilly morning it was. Not more important than enjoying the cloudy sky, the people happily cruising the farmer’s market, the enticing smell of food cooking at the stands.
I missed it.
For what? Nothing happened. I didn’t die of embarrassment when I almost fell on the bus. It’s not like I was unreasonably late. I didn’t miss anything. The professor didn’t care. The quiz ended up being insanely easy. I didn’t even need to have read to answer the questions. I may have gotten one wrong, but It’s still an A. I don’t care about being valedictorian. I don’t care about being a perfect student. I just want to grow as a person and enjoy the experience for what it is.
When I look back on this period, I’m not going to remember that one time I was 3 minutes late and nothing happened.
So next time I’m going to ask myself “What can I do in this moment to find a solution to this problem?” If I can’t do anything, why worry about it?
I can’t make the bus go faster, but when I get off, I can run. I can’t make the printing line get shorter, but when I get to a computer, I can type as fast as possible. I can take one step at a time. Do my best, and even if it doesn’t work out the way I want it to, it’s okay. It’s all okay, because I’m alive and I can experience.
So, stop being so melodramatic, and take a deep breath Mercedes.