Does Life Ever Stop Testing Us?

failure, anxiety, mental health, tests, relationships, love, philosophy, Modern Philosopher, lifeWhen I graduated from NYU twenty-five years ago, Modern Philosophers, a powerful sense of relief washed over me because I thought I was finally done with tests.

Even though I’d always been an above average student, I had an enormous anxiety about taking tests because it had been instilled in me that if I didn’t maintain a certain level of excellence, I was a failure regardless of what my teachers put on my report card.

Essentially, anything less than an A might as well have been an F.  Expectations were quite high for me.

Fittingly, my guests at graduation were my stepmother, who had planted the paralyzing fear of failure in my psyche, and my girlfriend, whose tests I would fail for the next decade until it led to my expulsion from our marriage.

I naively believed a quarter century ago in Washington Square Park, that when I threw my cap up into the air, I was free at last from tests and could finally set more realistic expectations for myself.

Chalk that one up as a definite failure.

NYU, graduation, failure, anxiety, relationships, philosophy, Modern Philosopher, lifeThe past year has been quite the challenge.  A very boring life became exponentially more exciting, which brought along a whole new series of tests.

Because of my anxieties, I failed them all miserably.

I didn’t quit, though.  I found my inner Straight A Student buried deep in my psyche, trapped in the gnarled roots of the mighty redwood that had grown from the seeds of the fear of failure my stepmother had planted many decades ago.

With the help of a very expensive tutor (aka a therapist), I was able to not only face my fears, but also pass my tests with scores that earned me a spot on the Dean’s List.

Life was finally headed in the direction I wanted.  My post-graduate work would begin at year’s end after the proper paperwork had been filed and approved by the government.

I studied diligently, Modern Philosophers.  I now know more about immigration law, visas, and the qualifications a foreign born applicant needs to practice Physical Therapy in the United States, than any NYU Film graduate ever should.

And yet here I sit alone with the scarlet letter of failure painted on my chest because life surprised me with a pop quiz and, apparently, I tanked it.

failure, relationships, love, psychology, philosophy, life, Modern Philosopher“You guys have to make this work.  We’re rooting for you because it’s like a Hollywood romance with all the obstacles you’ve had to overcome.  You were finally so happy.”

I might not have the quote exactly right, Modern Philosophers, but that was the gist of what my friend had to say the other night when she came over to check on me.

Her comments were appropriate because all this rambling I’m doing about life testing me is really just a cover for a love story.

If you knew the tests life has thrown at me over the past year, you’d probably wonder why I wasn’t a total wreck right now.

The truth of the matter is, I’ve chosen to put my faith in love, remembered all the obstacles we’ve overcome to get to this point, and truly believe we will find a way to pass this current test so all will be right with the world again.

However, something wasn’t right when I woke up this morning.  The burden of this most recent failure was weighing on me, my heart was heavy, and my faith was shaken.

Which led me to scream at the top of my lungs: When will life ever stop testing me???

stress, relationships, love, failure, philosophy, Modern Philosopher, lifeJust how much can one man take?

Why has this played out like a Hollywood romance to this point with love not allowing an ocean, immigration laws, licensing requirements, insecurity, and frightening, life altering changes to keep us from being together?

When the hell do the tests stop?  I feel like I’ve passed more than enough at this point to have earned my Master’s Degree in Happily Ever After.

My stepmother might have pushed me to a point where I fear failure so much that I’m too afraid to take any risks, but in this case, I went out on a very shaky limb over a very deep abyss because I was so hopelessly in love.

I just wasn’t prepared for all the tests life asked me to take while I was hanging on for dear life and trying not to lose sight of why I was out on that perilous perch in the first place.

When the @#$% does life stop testing me and allow me to graduate to happiness?

love, romance, overcoming obstacles, failure, philosophy, Modern PhilosopherI’m not looking for sympathy, Modern Philosophers.  I just needed to vent.  I knew heading into this that it would be challenging, but it shouldn’t be so difficult to be with the person you love.

I’m not supposed to be sitting alone on my porch with all the time in the world to write rambling posts about my frustration.  Bigger, much more romantic happenings were planned for this vacation.

I don’t know what your Deep Thoughts are on fate and higher powers, but I honestly believe that life is screwing with me.  All I want is to be happy.  I’ll jump through all the damn hoops I have to in order to get there, but enough is enough.

I’m done with all these damn tests.  The time has come for me to be happy.

I’ve certainly earned it.

Don’t test me right now. Just follow me on Pinterest…


About Austin

Native New Yorker who's fled to the quiet life in Maine. I write movies, root for the Yankees, and shovel lots of snow.
This entry was posted in Humor, Love, Philosophy and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

28 Responses to Does Life Ever Stop Testing Us?

  1. susielindau says:

    You’re not alone. We are all tested, daily. I’ve gone through my own setbacks, the latest one? Today. We’re on the right track if we stand up and try again with a different tactic.

  2. holley4734 says:

    I don’t think the testing is ever done. I know that I’m being tested at work, home, the library, Wal-Mart. Everywhere. The struggle is real. It really is.

  3. Jennifer says:

    You forgot your yellow, No. 2 pencil. It must be used for all tests.

  4. ksbeth says:

    i’m going through a test myself, as i have before, and i know no matter my score, i’ll come out ahead in the end.

  5. I understand your frustration and your situation sucks. I’ve been through some crazy, horrible stuff in my life, with a child in tow, so I know that life can be rough and it seems to mess with you. However, your ultimate source of happiness is found within. I know that I sound like some worthless blurb from the back of a self-help guru’s latest book, but it’s the honest truth. Your happiness isn’t going to come from a relationship or money or fame (although these things can enhance your life, to be sure).

    I know that your dreams have been shattered and that effing hurts. A lot. But I don’t think the Universe is messing with you. I think there’s something bigger and better in store for you. You have to keep letting go, over and over, until the real deal arrives.

    Be happy and grateful anyway. In all the little, and gigantically wonderful, things in your life.


  6. Robert Paulson says:

    Welcome to the Jungle, baby.

  7. donedreaming says:

    Why don’t you move to live with her? You can write from anywhere, you could rent your house out rather than sell it if you still need a life raft to cling to. As Tony Robbins says “if you want to take the island, burn the boats”. Now that would be putting your faith in love ..

  8. donedreaming says:

    So you could declare your love and just turn up on her doorstep ‘Hi honey, I’m home!’ kind of style. Or you could sit for a moment and ask is she really the ‘one’ or are you just hoping for her to be? Your stepmother did a job on you Austin, much like mine did to me. Yours expected excellence which you bust a gut to give her, mine expected failure and hard as I tried I didn’t disappoint her. Stop trying so hard to make something happen, if it’s meant to be it won’t pass you by. Until then relax and have fun finding out who the real Austin is, not the one your stepmother created. He’s in there somewhere ..

  9. markbialczak says:

    Don’t give up, Austin. You’ve come so dang far in the last year, my friend. I remember when it was much, much, much worse, that dark cloud over the House on the Hill. Really. Fingers crossed and eyes crossed that this WILL happen, the visas and all.

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