A Piece of Kemila's Mind

E for Excellence

I remember when I was a student in hypnotherapy school, towards the end of the course, we were given a series of personality test questionnaires. I don’t remember what the purpose was – It could be to grade us for the personality competency to become a successful hypnotherapist; could be to test our moral values and our personal ethics; or to just fill up the time we had in class. I was not sure.

All I knew was I had a difficult time in doing those questionnaires.

One such question for example was:

If you’re in the situation in which your father, mother, wife, and kid are drowning in front of you, and you’re able to save only one, who would you save?

A. Father
B. Mother
C. Spouse
D. Kid

I remember with the entire questionnaire, most of my choices were E. I had to write down an “E” below the “D”, and give my answer such as “I’ll know when it happens”.

On the next day, our instructor couldn’t help but wave my paper in his hand in class, “Kemila, you made most of the choices as E. Were you confused? Or did you try to confuse me?”

“Neither. I just couldn’t find a right choice in A, B, C, and D, so I invented one.”

“But, “ the instructor was trying to make sense to himself, “How can you choose E when it’s not there?”

“That’s why I invented it.”

The entire class turned their head to me. Suddenly my face went red.

I thought, “Here comes again.” I have became an alien in people’s eyes.

“So, what specifically was hard for you to choose what were given to you?” Maybe the instructor was not trying to make sense to himself, but to me.

My face became redder. I had chosen to stay true to myself, but I hated to cause a scene in the class, especially when not supported by the authority.

My voice came out in a lowered volume, “The questions themselves are not hard. I suppose I could pick any one answer and justify that. ” I took a breath. “For example, in the question of saving which family member from drowning, I could choose A because my father is the oldest one therefore he has earned the respect according to Chinese filial piety; I could choose B because my mother doesn’t know how to swim; I could choose C because it shows true love; I could choose D because children are the most vulnerable ones… What we morally and righteously say on the paper and discuss here is probably not what I’d do if such situation happens. How would I know? If it happens, I will probably not have time to go over A B C D in my head.”

My instructor was probably partially uncomfortable, partially amused, and partially annoyed. Regardless, he ended that moment with a brilliant humour, “I’m not sure how to grade this. Therefore I may just give you an E.”

And he moved on with others in the class. Thank God. My cheeks found a relief. Immediately the class was engaged with all sorts of debates on those questions. Everyone had their good points expressed.

I was sitting there, embarrassed, and yet quite pleased with myself. I didn’t have interests getting involved with the debates, as I found them pointless, like politics, to me. Without a debate, I decided I was going to take that E from the instructor.

However it was intended, I could always turn it into Excellence, in my own private practice.

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