Mind. Blown!

5 Oct

Ya know, I knew exactly how to write this blog when I thought I would have to tell you that I’d bombed the GRE. My Epic Fail post was keyed around something my cycling coach said as he talked me through some major pre-GRE anxiety.

He said:

CZ, you know the only person you have to explain yourself to is you. No one else really even cares. Not really. The people who love you are going to love you anyway. And, in fact, the people who REALLY love you are the ones who love you not for all the good/crazy/neat things you do — they love you for your flaws.

They love the whole, real you. Flaws and all. So, who cares if you don’t do well on the exam — It’ll just give them more to love!

(yes, he’s a multifaceted guy, that coach of mine!)

Well, as it turns out, I did not bomb the test. In fact, I actually kind of blew it up — in a totally huge, positive, and excellent way. In fact, I was so taken aback by how well I did, I could not not rightly attribute it to myself.

Surely I of the broken brain did not do THAT!?! My success came from without, not within. And so I fired off the following email to my 3 GRE coaches (totally different people from my cycling coach, btw — he’s not THAT multifaceted!):

Dear David, Jen & Gene —

It is impossible for me adequately express my thanks to you and everyone on the Kaplan team for what transpired during my GRE exam.

I got my undergrad degree back in 1994 and the last time I looked at any sort of “real” math was probably sometime in 1991. Taking the GRE now, especially after having built a wildly successful career that I essentially chucked in order to pursue an entirely new “GRE-required” career was more than a bit daunting.

The “daunt” was further increased by the fact that I suffered substantial “emergency-surgery-required” brain damage in 2011. In fact, that brain injury essentially wiped out my entire left frontal temporal region (i.e., the one responsible for language production and math processing). Thus, I was deeply intimidated by the entire GRE prospect and its potential impact on my future…

With your help, however, I was able to pull down the following (unofficial) scores today:

Verbal: 169 [tip for JA readers: the highest possible score is 170; I was hoping for a 160]

Quant: 153 [tip for JA readers: I needed to get a 144]

Both scores are MORE than miraculous and my thanks to you all is profound and manifest.

With extreme gratitude,


 The coaches wrote back, as follows. First, Jen:
I’m sure I speak for our team when I say HOLY MACKEREL AND CONGRATULATIONS!  I got the chills while reading your email!  I cannot even imagine the effort it must have taken you to overcome the intimidation factor with the GRE.  And you absolutely CRUSHED the exam.
This is such a lesson to all students – if someone working as hard as you had to can earn top-notch scores like these, then the rest of us better get motivated to do the same.  Wow and BRAVA!
Thank you so very much for taking the time to write such a thoughtful email and to share with us your great success.  This is truly why we do this job, and we are so happy to be part of a hard-working student’s transition into the next chapter.
Grad school is clearly your destiny, and the great effort you were willing to put in here is testament to how well you will do in your program. We salute your great efforts and celebrate your wonderful success!  Congratulations and wow!!!  Please do let us know when you get into grad school.
Next, Gene:
Hi Cristin,
I echo Jen’s sentiments 100%.  Of course, we love getting emails like this, and this is going directly in my “GRE Success Stories” folder, but given your circumstances that you described, I can’t tell you how much your email warmed my heart.  In fact, it put such a smile on my face that I went back and read your email 2 more times.
And while we Kaplan GRE teachers appreciate your kind words, YOU were the one who put in the hard work and dedication and it obviously paid off!
I hope you’re doing some well-deserved celebrating this week… you deserve it!
Your proud GRE teacher,

And finally, David — the one with whom I had the most personal interaction throughout these past 2 months. He was my “private” GRE coach and he heard a LOT about my various travails (Jen and Gene were my on-line, group Verbal and Quantitative instructors, respectively):
Wow, Cristin, that is so great! Thanks so much for the kudos, but this is really all you.
Some people seem to have a real gift for pulling out of really tough things and excelling anyway, and I would say you have that in spades. I hope your celebratory race is equally impressive; let me know how it goes and definitely keep in touch if there is any other way I can assist as you make this exciting and courageous change in your life and calling.
Congratulations (which in Latin means “I give thanks along with you”) and best wishes,
Are you kidding me?
Is that right?
“Congratulations” in Latin means “I give thanks along with you” ??
How totally awesome is that?!
A quick Google search did not exactly prove out that concept, but mining the coffers of my Latin roots, I do clearly recall that:
  • Grat = thanks
  • Con = with

So… I guess it stands to reason that congratulations really does (or at least might) mean: I give thanks along with you.

And if THAT’s true, then I would like to offer a great big hearty CONGRATULATIONS to all of us. I could not do any of this without you.

Go, team!


PS  — As for David’s inquiry about my post-GRE “celebratory race,” don’t worry, that update is coming soon, too. And it will allow me to make use of my cycling coach’s prior offering: I failed big, so you can love me even more!


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