Explanation and attached thoughts:
We worked on the project today. Things were going well, then they exploded. We are all fried and worn thin - I get sensitive, Pip gets temperamental and a bit abrasive with her temper: not a good mix. After a rant with Alejandra about Frank in which she expressed her equal frustration as the other 'half' (one-hundredth?) of the 'planning force', things seemed alright. But we were still too on edge and all needing space when there was too little space to be had, much like the ants we had placed together in Petri dishes, and it was hard.
Emma and I are OCD leaders. Pip is an intelligent follower. She felt ignored/criticised; my comment/action came off as criticism to her when from me it was genuine desire to be helpful. She stomped her feet and snapped. I shattered; Emma shattered too. Alejandra came as we were breaking and came to understand how hard this is on us.
I stayed downstairs for a reasonable amount of time. Too many people came to ask me how I was. I went upstairs to pick up my Dr. Suess book and gain some normality; Pip and Emma were in there chatting. I pulled myself into the loo, although I'm not even aware what I thought I would do; perhaps I thought that there was no soundproofing. After too long I realised it was a private conversation and headed out again; I knew they had heard me both ways.
I went to the dune by our ants and cried. Tried to head to the shops to buy my sister a gift but they were closed. Sank. When I was curled up I saw feet and Pip's voice (barely recognised it) saying something about Kiwi and talk and I just couldn't, so I repeated "I can't, I'm sorry, I can't, No, no, I've got to go, I can't" and ran away. Tried to make it back to the dunes but had to stop and calm myself on the ridge by the lab so I wouldn't have a panic attack. Emma found me later and calmed me enough.
We all went for a walk. Pip told me that she has few friends because she tends to push them out of her life with her temper. She brought up having two control-freak leaders in the group and how it can be great, but also hard for the person who isn't. I didn't speak much - I couldn't. We got ice cream on the way back. We finished with our insects for the day, worked in our rooms and went down for dinner.
Alejandra was walking around giving out the test results for the spot test. I saw her coming my way and before I could even think I literally ran away.
I, Kiwi, ran away from a teacher. Full-tilt-boogie "oh shoot she's gone." I hid behind a pillar in the dinner room. I had discussed with Pip or Emma that one of them would pick it up and give me a thumbs up if I'd done well because I couldn't deal with a number.
Emma came into the room and gave me a thumbs up, then blurted out "79!" all impressed, like, 'oh, yay, point away from a First with Honours!' My first thought was 'I missed the mark, how could I have missed that mark?!' I picked up the paper and started frowning down at it, caught Frank's 'well done' on my plant section and wondered what could possibly have been well done about anything I'd put on the paper, save maybe spelling Selaginellaceae right, which I'd only remembered since I heard it mentioned at the dinner table the day before.
Someone rested a hand on my shoulder. I screamed and jumped and turned only to witness Alejandra's surprised but amused face. Annie laughed along. Everyone reported that I certainly was on edge. She checked in with how I was doing and laughed about the fact that I had run away from her.
I thought I was going to be okay just beating myself up in private. Frank gets up for an announcement and tells us that it's a tradition to celebrate those who have achieved and done the best. Grades and competition have never sat well in my stomach, so it turned and I ran to the loo, where I sat on the seat and sang Janis Joplin's 'Mercedez Benz' until I heard all the clapping stop and had calmed myself.
Back at dinner I saw wine in front of certain people and pleased or down faces; I assessed that 'winners' - probably top altogether and then one from each section - had received prizes. I understood throughout the evening that that was the case and that Pip had one second out of all scores and was shocked to have beat Emma. I congratulated her and am authentically pleased for those who were honoured.
Thank goodness for private conversations with Pip after. I'm aware that my classmates will now thing I'm the biggest snob for up and running out of the room - one could incorrectly conclude that due to my knowledge in the field and displeased aura that I got a bad mark and was shocked, and that I ran out from some inability to accept that others had done better.
To be honest, I didn't know if my name would come up and I would have been just as upset if it had. Grades + Competition + Public Notice = Kiwi in stress.
Strange conversation with everyone over the table. Frank kept trying to talk with Pip, Alejandra or Annie and they'd try to keep it as short as possible. He told me I was the only one to get the question about distinguishing a compound leaf (axillary buds and stipules) - hence the 'well done' - and I thanked Ms. Watson's botany teacher since he certainly didn't give it enough mention for a test question. That was that.
I chose not to do the Night-Time Scorpion Walk since I didn't feel up to a walk all the way to the hills in the dark. CJ came up to me and asked what I got. I gave her primarily a body-motion/facial response and expressed that I wasn't talking about it. She asked again. I said it "wasn't too bad." She asked 'but was it above a 69?' I told her I ripped the grade off the top (true) and let my sentence trail off. She concluded that I had forgotten it, I shrugged neither in agreement or dissent and that was the end of it. I don't want to be her scale of achievement - 'did I beat Kiwi?'
But I'm doing better now, after chats with Pip. I still hate grades. I still hate the fact that I have no confidence in myself and cross out answers that are right just for my lack of faith in my own abilities, which I've been beating myself up for since I was 15. I still hate the competitive nature of grades and how I/others deal with them. I'm still a nutcase and I still know this.
I'm also still in Spain, which is still beautiful despite friend/project-problems and grades and Franks, and I'm still alive. None of this will kill me. None of the approaching assignments, week-long modules or exams will kill me.
The friends, ants, tests, graded pen-marks, respected and Blattidae/cockroach professors and I are still all stardust from the same random explosion of nothing from billions of years ago. That someone brings me a sense of sanity and calm. Thanks, stars. I owe you for this one.
(For all of you who didn't already know I was a complete nut, I apologise for the eye-opener; it was bound to happen some time soon.)