So I went to write my English Proficiency Test today, in order to qualify for entrance to the National Institute of Education where I will train to become a teacher. I wasn’t particularly worried. I mean, I wrote a qualifying test before entering university, I’ve been studying for the past 4 years here and I’m pursuing a minor in English Studies. An English test should be no biggie, right?
Right. Well, almost. The paper was mostly fine, but there were a few tricky ones here and there. Questions that made me stop and think for a while … the stuff that makes you doubt yourself. You know, like whether you should use “principal” or “principle” in a particular sentence or “discrete” or “discreet”. These things should be a piece of cake, but they’re the sort of words that suddenly crop up in the “I’m not so sure” list, even though deep down, you probably know the right answer.
But there was one question that had me stumped for a while. For you grammar aficionados out there (and wow, did not know that ‘aficionado’ had just one ‘f’ till just now … thank you, Firefox dictionary!), this was the question:
“Either you or I [is/am/are] to blame.” (Choose the right option.)
So there I was, trying to figure out just which one of these words was correct. I said the line in my head again and again, each time using a different option. You know how when you say something over and over again, a particular word/phrase/sentence starts to sound totally alien? Yeah, that happened. So I just went on to the other questions and came back to this one in the end, hoping that by some miracle, I would arrive at the answer if I looked at it with a fresh mind. No such luck. I must’ve looked like an idiot in the examination hall, because I screwed up my face in every possible way, hoping that using the right intonation in my head (which ended up showing on my face) would make it easier for me to hit upon the right answer. Again, no luck.
I was getting frustrated. Obviously, one of the options was the right answer, but none of them sounded correct to me. It didn’t fit. When I said the sentence with any of the options given, I didn’t feel that sense of satisfaction. I’ve almost always worked out grammar this way – if it doesn’t sound right in your head, it probably isn’t. I trust my instinct. And here I was, three options in front of me, none of them sounding even remotely like the correct answer. What was I supposed to do? What was the right choice? What do you do when your instinct doesn’t tell you anything, or worse, keeps insisting that none of the options are the right answer? Ultimately, I just picked one based on some weird logic that I can’t even remember now. All I know was that I wasn’t satisfied with it.
It got me thinking. What happens when a question pops up in life, and there are only a few valid choices you can make, but nothing feels correct? You know that the answer lies in the options you have in front of you, but you don’t feel like any of them is the ideal solution. None of them fit. You imagine your life with the solution fit in, and it doesn’t feel right. What then? How do you choose? What helps you make the “right” decision?
Or is that the beauty of life? That there are no right or wrong decisions, just decisions and what you make of them? I do hope so. 🙂
(Hello, blogging world! *waves frantically*)