Learning How To Handle Pressure

Learning to Learn

"This is a two-day course with a 40-question test at the end," the teacher barked.

I groaned. It had been a busy week. I wanted to spend the weekend alone. I wanted to relax and make a good meal for myself and prepare for next week. But I had to take this course I was attending once every two years and without pay. Why the test when we had taken this course before? Why not just review? And I discovered there was a practical aspect to the test as well. I wasn't up to it.

But life had taught me many things and at forty-four, I was finally learning how to handle pressure. I immediately got out my pens, several colors of them. Highlighters also appeared out of nowhere. I began to write everything the teacher was saying. The notes he gave us with all of the power point slides on it would be reviewed later. I was going to create a second set of notes.

Secondly I asked questions. Classes are always dynamic when I am in them. Teachers rarely have to have anything structured - I create the structure with question after question after question.

Thirdly I talked on the breaks to the other students - about the material. "If you don't know it, teach it," is the old adage, it works.

Forget about the weather or the latest movie. I began to ask questions. And the other students responded. Now we were both learning and that felt even better.

I had been told, while getting my certificate to teach English, that it takes a person about seventeen occurrences to learn a word in another language. Repetition is very important in learning.

In writing my own notes, in asking questions of the teacher and in turn asking questions of my fellow students - I had already reviewed the material three times. That evening I would make up and administer a test for myself. That would be two more times. And more opportunities would arise as the students pleaded with me the next day to study with them.

That weekend is over. I passed the tests, both written and practical. But I also passed another test, the test of stress. I've never handled stress well. Having had Chronic Fatigue Syndrome during the earlier years of my life was not helpful but I am learning to take things once step at a time, to break things down and make them smaller and manageable.

More and more aspects of my life are being handled this way. If a payment is too much, divide it into chunks. If a course of study is too long, divide it into days. If an art project is too big, divide it into modules of some kind.

I am also learning how to handle myself and understand how I learn, how I feel and what works for me. I am learning also that sometimes I should I ignore my feelings for a while. I was weary on Saturday morning. I was excited on Sunday afternoon.

Life was good that weekend. Life is good.

Copyright 2008 Paul St. Paul