Monday, May 14, 2012

Expectations and Respect

This past semester of college was the most difficult and disappointing yet. While my grades are not yet in, I do not believe I am in any danger of not passing my courses, but that does not lessen the my regret that I did not perform better. I could make a million excuses, but they all amount to an attempt to justify what I do not believe is justifiable. This is not the first time I have given a sub-par performance; my college career is lengthy and my earliest years were laced with an abundance of indifference, but that has not been the case since returning in earnest in the fall of 2004. It could also easily be argued that no matter how well I have done, I could have done better. But this time there is more to it than that…

Procrastination has been my nemesis since my earliest memories. I have fought against it with varying degrees of success throughout my life. I am easily distracted and I am fairly sure that if I would submit myself to some sort of psychological evaluation I would be diagnosed with the current ailment du jour, one that I am sure there is a miracle drug that would “cure” it. But my success thus far has proven that with sufficient fortitude, I can perform up to the standards that are expected of me. While those standards are exceeding high as a PhD student at Louisiana State University, they were equally high as an MA student at California State University, Sacramento. That MA, however, is still lacking the final component that will award me my degree and allow me to continue at LSU, and that is, in large part, responsible for my disappointment.

Procrastination. It drove me to put off what should have been completed a year ago. It greatly increased my workload when my workload was already significant. And I have no one to blame but myself. But, and this is a big “but,” I can handle letting myself down. I have even, to some degree, grown accustomed to it. What I cannot get used to is the ramifications it has for others when I fall short. In the past those others have mostly consisted of my family, but with my graduate experience I am now in a position that my meager performance sends a statement to those who have been instrumental in seeing me through thus far. I am speaking specifically of the graduate professors who have taken the time and interest in my education (time that is largely monetarily unrewarded) and the institutions that have granted me access to the highest levels of education.

Doing my utmost to meet these lofty expectations is more than just doing my part – it is a sign of respect. By not delivering my best and by allowing myself to drag my feet until the flames are lapping at my ass hurts not only my education, it wastes the time of those who have given so much of theirs to me. It is a sign of disrespect. And that I have done so causes me more regret than any personal ramifications to my own interests. In my culminating exams at CSUS, I was woefully unprepared. While it is likely that certain inherent defects in my ability to recall specific names and dates from memory would not have made a great deal of difference when it came to the written portion of those exams, in the oral defense there can be no such excuse – I should have been better prepared. As a result, I fell short of what was expected of me. Thankfully, I have been granted the opportunity to retake two of the six portions of my oral exams. I have been given another opportunity to show my appreciation and respect by performing not only up to expectations, but by exceeding them.

At the end of the day, that is far more important to me than the very real and dire consequences of not passing. Showing those who have gone out of their way to guide me along this path the respect they deserve is not why I do what I do, but it helps in doing it sooner and better. This school year is almost over – next year the expectations go up. The best way to respect those who are helping and have helped me meet those expectations is simple enough – meet them.