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The Board Exam Experience

I started writing this piece about 12 and half hours before my exams.  And to be honest, I was breaking down for about half a day before I wrote this.  About 31 hours earlier, room assignments came out.  I wasn’t really tensed nor rattle about this exam for the past 6 months, I do want to, so I could focus on my studies, but I’m not.  Perhaps that’s because I took the Master Plumber Licensure exams before that.  So maybe, I’ve gotten used to taking exams afterwards.  But when the schedule came out, all my fear came in.  I was literally shaking that time and nobody knew, ’cause I’m the only one in our house that very moment.

I texted my friends, told them that the schedule is out.  And I also started texting my CLOSEST friends about it, so they could pray for me.  The tension was there ’till night.  Nobody knew.  I didn’t show.  But I was thankful enough that my best friend made an inspiring video of them saying their heartwarming good luck.  I downloaded it and played it minutes before I take the exam.

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I was able to sleep early, but when I woke up, the pressure was there again.  I didn’t want to rise from my bed, I just… wanted to stop.  Everything I was that day was ambivalence.  The surge of kept feelings exploded on the reality that after a few hours… the exam that would make or break me would have already begun.

I watched the video again.  It boosted me up, so I tried reading a few review materials, but it didn’t last.  I opened facebook and looked upon my news feed.  I tried texting and sending messages to my fellow exam takers, saying “good luck and God bless.”  But when I saw them posting and announcing on facebook that they’re taking the exam, my doubts started to rain on me again.

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I wasn’t vocal about this and my previous exam because I don’t really have that self-confidence.  Even though people kept on saying I shouldn’t be worried, I still am.  And for the past 3 hours, I was actually crying, asking myself, why am I so scared?

My friends and family had given me their support, their sincere care… so why am I still wavering?  I was so damn scared… simply because… I was scared of letting them down.  I was so so so scared of disappointing them.

Sometimes I ask myself… “iyong sarili ko na lang ba ang kalaban ko?”  Because everyone around me believed that I had it in me, that I could pass, it’s in my blood, and I can do it.  But deep down, I can’t say it.  I was so scared of disappointing those who believed in me.  And I know, I might have disregarded a bit of some people’s help for me, that’s because I don’t want to be in debt anymore, and in the end, disappoint them.  I was so afraid of what I am to hear if I were to fail.  I don’t even know where to start if I fail.

After all the smileys I’ve sent, the giggles I’ve made, the smiles I’ve shown before my exams… they were all masks, because honestly, I was so frightened that I wanted to stop thinking about these feelings and hope that this challenge will soon end.  And when I get to the finish line, I could finally say “mission accomplished.”

Don’t get me wrong.  I was really happy with everyone’s effort.  I was overwhelmed with the love, care and support, given to me on this board exam experience.  I might have been just weak that’s why I wobble during these times.  But honestly, I cannot be thankful enough for everyone around me, especially You, Lord.  I am sinner, but You have always strengthened my soul every time I tremble in fear.  And I am so glad You’ve created these terrific people to create simple joys in my life.

First day came and I was at the venue one hour earlier.  I wasn’t rattled yet… until I sat on my designated seat.  I was so nervous that I kept on tapping my chest and breathe a little harder.  I placed my rosary in my left pocket and never stopped praying during my exams.  I was a bit fine after part 1, but when part 2 came, I was devastated.  I thought to myself, “kung nasa reviewers iyong mga tanong, baka nasagot ko, kaso wala e, saan sila galing?”  And then it hit me na bago na nga talaga ang board members.  So bakit eksaktong sa amin pa?  Kami ba talaga dapat ang first blood?  Ang sakit!

I texted my friends, only one replied and the other one called.  And they informed me that everyone had same thoughts, that we were all crushed by the unexpected turn of events.  That we prepared ourselves to pass the previous examiner, not the new one.

I was so hurt that I didn’t want to go home.  And if someone would’ve asked me to have some beer, I would’ve went with them (but I didn’t, ’cause nobody did.  And I was known as someone who don’t really drink alcohol.)

After the exams, I went to the nearest chapel, burst in tears as I was losing myself, my bite-sized confidence and my hope.  Every bit of success in me had gone lost.

There was a one day break before the last exam.  My friends tried cheering me up, saying that, “bawi tayo sa Day 2!”

Kaso pa’no ka babawi kung nawalan ka na ng pag-asa sa Day1?  Pa’no ka lalaban kung alam mong talo ka na?  Pa’no ka pa tatayo kung alam mong wala ka nang kakapitan?  I was so devastated that none of their words helped me.  I just smiled perhaps, said I was fine or nakisabay na lang kung anong sasabihin nila.  But in all honesty… no one was able to bring back my willpower.

I was torn by the agonizing pain that I might not pass this exam anymore.  I was so mad by the fact that the only one who understood me was my brother who kept on saying most of the things in my head.  He was trying to piss me by joking about the things that our relatives, or my mom and dad would say if I fail this exam.  I cried that night!  I was crying because I tried keeping all of it to myself and tried ignoring those facts but he knew!  He knew all of it!  I wasn’t mad at him, I was actually glad that someone knew.  But reality was too painful to accept.  And I was mad that I live in this kind of unfair reality.

And when I thought I won’t be able to make it to Day 2, I remembered what my best friend shared to me.

Philippians 4-13

I kept on repeating that one line and prayed all day.  And as I went inside that intensifying room again, I told myself, “I can do this!  God strengthens me, I can do everything with His help.  I can do this!”

I had given up to myself that time, but God didn’t.  He lifted me up and strengthened my back.  I was able to breathe fine again and take the Day 2 Design exam.  It was a 10-hour design test where food is just a luxury you can forget.  I tried eating a bit of munchkins at around 9 am.  And when 1pm came, I realized I haven’t eaten lunch yet.

Day 2 exam was so hard.  I was only able to answer it because I plotted what was given and a bit of luck with my knowledge in math.  But in reality, it was harder than Day 1.  After the exams, my friends invited me to go to St. Jude to ask for guidance, unfortunately, I was already on my way home that time since I wanted to join my family in our Sunday Mass.  I was able to talk to them for a bit.  But after that day, they weren’t able to talk to me again.  Some sent me messages on the cellphone and facebook, some even tried calling, but I didn’t answer.

I was scared.  I didn’t know what to say.  It felt blank.  I believe in God.  I was hoping He’d let me pass.  But right now, I just want to stay in His arms and pray.  I need to stop worrying.  But I’m not yet ready to face the people who knew me.  So I hid myself.  Waiting is scary.  I don’t know when the results will come out.  I don’t know if my name is there, but I still pray that I would be there.  During those “waiting-times” I tried doing a lot of work in our house.  Fixing stuff, cleaned my workplace, tried being busy of some things… just so I’d forget the anxiety.  But every time I feel worried, I pray.  And the Lord answers with a warm hug.

Bit by bit, I was able to show myself again to the world.  I was able to talk to people, one at a time, as they were all worried about me ’cause I wasn’t answering.  The days I’ve spent waiting for the results were the days I didn’t stop praying.  Those were the days when the word “calmness” never existed.

But on February 5, my nervousness slowly paced away.  Perhaps the Lord had given me peace and went on distracting me to avoid anxiety.  I helped my brother build his computer table that day.  I was so busy that I seldom open facebook.

Until night time came… and the results were out.  I told myself I wouldn’t cry but when I saw my name on the list, I was literally shaking and tears fell.  I lifted my laptop and went out of the room and announced that I finally passed the exam.

And after that, everything was blurry.  I think I was crying for 3 hours that time.  My mom and dad hugged me as they were trying to keep me calm.  My brother was giggling as he continued to tease me.  I was so happy that I thanked God for everything.  I called my friends and thank them.  And until now, 4 days had passed, I’m still not used to having my title.

Perhaps it’s true.  Reality is indeed hard to accept.  I now face a greater challenge… to prove my worth to this unfair world.  But I am so glad that I was able to conquer both exams.  I cannot be thankful enough to everyone who had helped me throughout my quest, but I promise to live up to my dreams and create something useful during my lifetime.

Dear Lord, thank You for everything.  Thank You for lifting me up during my darkest times and rejoicing with me during my happiest moments.  Thank You for the love.  And to all who had been a part of me, thank you everyone!🙂

-Architect Joanna Hope R. Concon, RMP

To those who are planning to take the board exam, always remember that the Lord loves you and He will not forsake you no matter what.  If everyone around you seems to be of no help to you, don’t forget to pray.  The Lord will always be there.  You can always count on Him.  It’s okay to feel a bit of scared, a bit of nervous and rattled.  That’s fine.  That’s normal.  But don’t lose yourself.  Prayers will save you from your darkest times.  Don’t give in to defeat, instead, give up everything to the Lord.  He knows what to do.🙂

Good luck!

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