Moving Forward

Here’s the story of how I became a Certified Public Accountant: I crammed.

I traveled to Manila determined to study like I had never studied before (literally), but I couldn’t. My old study habits – or the lack of them – always kicked in. I have never achieved “beast mode,” as others call it. When it came to studying, though I promised several times that I would, but I simply didn’t know how to.

Reviewing for months prior to the October 2016 CPA licensure examination was a great challenge for me. At the beginning of our review, we were told that ideally, we should study for at least eight hours a day. If we were not used to that, the reviewer said, start with two to four hours, then gradually increase the hours until we can run the race. But by the time I realized that I still couldn’t adjust my study habits to keep up with the race, more than half of our review time had already lapsed. And, by that time, I still wasn’t ready.

During the review, I went out with friends at least once a week. That would have been okay if I had been burning the midnight oil every night. But it wasn’t the case. When I didn’t go out, I was in bed, sleeping or surfing the internet for most of the day, watching random movies or scrolling endlessly through social media sites. I did not study my review modules in advance, so I spaced out a lot during our review classes, not getting what the reviewer was talking about. I did not practice answering potential exam questions. I studied only a few hours a day at first. And whenever I did, I studied too slowly. I didn’t get to read all the modules the review center provided. Most of the books I bought during my college days were left unopened. I was neither effective nor efficient, and I wasn’t proud of it.

I have to admit, I was terrified. And I’m pretty sure I wasn’t the only one. Failing was not an option. Weeks before the actual board exam, I witnessed my friends and batch mates break down—emotionally, spiritually, probably even mentally. To us, it was more than just a roller coaster of emotions; the battle pushed you to the brink of your sanity where you free-fall to the vast unknown.

Remember that saying about carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders? Trust me, sometimes it’s not just some figure of speech. You can actually feel it crush your soul, smother your dreams, force you to doubt yourself, until you start to consider the easiest way out: giving up. Every single day it gets heavier and heavier.

Like everyone else, I was afraid of failing my family. They believed in me too much. They have sacrificed a lot for me. And I knew that as much as I wanted to just give up and stop studying, I shouldn’t. The clock was ticking, but it wasn’t over yet.

As the board exam neared, I crammed. I tried to study at least eight hours a day. I read and answered what I could. I tried to pick up my study pace though there were moments when my brain just wouldn’t cooperate. When our college professors visited us two weeks before the exam, they all told us the same thing: that we should rest and relax a week before it.

That didn’t happen. The readings seemed to impossibly pile up as the seconds ticked by. There were just too many. I couldn’t cover everything. I didn’t attend any “pre-week” lectures at our review center because I badly needed the time to study while still getting enough sleep. Still, I tried to make up by studying as soon as I got up. I lost track of how many hours I studied in a day. I didn’t know if I was focusing on the right topics. I still studied the day before the exam. Or at least I tried to; I wasn’t even sure if I was still retaining anything by that time.

I remember trying to bargain my way out, promising the Lord this and that if He would just let me pass the board exam. I was that desperate. I didn’t know what I’d do if I didn’t pass. If the worst happened, I thought I’d be stuck in some void I couldn’t escape. I think that was what scared me the most. But in the end, because of all the inspirational and comforting words I heard from so many people who believed in me, my prayers began changing. I only prayed that what I studied was enough to get me through. And if it wasn’t, I prayed that I’d be able to accept the results and trust the Lord’s plans. I prayed that I’d never lose hope and that I’d be able to move forward after all the exam drama was over.

In the end, I accepted that my life was not just about getting that three-letter title: CPA. It was so much more. I could take the board exam again or I could take something else. I could try a different career path and get out of my comfort zone. There were so many adventures ahead of me and not knowing anything about the future was part of the thrill. I just had to have faith. Those prayers calmed my heart.

The results came out 10 days later. You probably know how this story ends: My name was on the passers’ list, and so were my roommates’. We made it!

Note to self and to everyone else: You know what you are capable of, so give yourself some credit. Do whatever you can and try not to worry about what you can’t. Trust that He knows where exactly you should be and that He will lead you there. Keep the faith, always.


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