It was my second day of work at University Prep High. I had rehearsed over and over in my head my duties and responsibilities in regards to administering 9th and 10th grade midterm exams. I was nervous but willing to embrace the challenge. I double-checked my schedule - okay, 15 more minutes until I needed to be in a certain classroom. 15 minutes? Nice.
I headed to the teacher workroom and made myself a cup of tea. Several other teachers were gathering there, talking and laughing. I joined the conversation.
Suddenly, an exam coordinator was at the door. "Bhakti? Are you administering the midterm exam?"
My blood froze. "Yes,"
"Students are waiting for you."
I had misread the schedule. In silence the two of us walked swiftly down the hall. We came upon the room I was meant to be administering - students were milling about, talking, chatting, and the academic dean was there about to get the students settled. My stomach dropped.
The dean issued some commands, and the students began to settle. I immediately jumped into passing out exams and working other tools. I didn't explain myself or give excuses. The dean, exam coordinator, and I all calmly organized beginning the exam. We were running late. I had been late.
When the exam finally did get rolling and all students were absorbed in silently filling in test sheets, I surveyed the classroom and felt humiliation and fear roll over me.
My second day at work. Second day. I had failed to show up for such an important moment. How could I be trusted again? Would they still want me here? I'm worthless.
Painful thoughts kept whirling around and around in my head in the quiet space of test-taking students.
I thought of the Serenity Prayer. God grant me the courage to change the things I can. Is there anything I can do about this situation? Well, later on I can own up and apologize to those involved. God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change. Other than taking responsibility for what happened, there's not much else I can do. Even if I'm fired, what can I do? I had done my best.
As for the painful self-talk, nothing would quiet those words, so I silently began to chant the holy name, applying the Name like a cool compress upon my feverish heart. My heart cooled.
By the time the students had finished the exam, I had come to peace. I felt as though I had just taken my own exam.
Later on I owned up to my mistake with first the exam coordinator and then the academic dean. Each appreciated the apology and within one minute we had come to resolution and moved on.
Bam. Life moves on.
(To read more about the Serenity Series, click here.)