I will let Adam answer the questions that were pointed at him, but a few points. Airplane altimeters work in altitude above sea level, so you were only at 8,500 feet, not 14,000.
I was once a 23 year old CFI with a father at US Airways who helped me get my loan, but my focus was always on providing the absolute best quality instruction possible to my students. If your CFI is not acting in that manner, I would find a new one. I wouldn’t worry about what his outlook on pretty FAs or toys is, just can he teach you to fly or not.
Checkrides can be stressful, but they are a fact of life, so you had better get used to them. The checkrides never stop in this profession, not even for the most senior and experienced of pilots.
I am not a fan of Flight Simulator, I think it teaches bad habits and is just a game. Adam has his reasons for liking it, which I will let him expand on.
You will learn this soon, but in a single engine airplane, you must always hold right rudder for takeoff or the airplane will drift to the left. Don’t beat yourself up, you had no way of knowing that.