Friday, December 12, 2014

An Oath to Take

(Note: Below is a personal story of one of 2014 BLE Psychometrician topnotchers who preferred to be anonymous.)

Yesterday I took an oath... And lest I forget one of the most crucial time in my life... I decided to simply write about it.


Graduating from college was a very powerful and empowering experience. It was pure bliss. And to be able to have a degree at one of the most excellent universities in the country was cherry on top. And so fresh from graduation I had the time of my life. Celebrations went on and on. I traveled with friends, climbed mountains, went to the provinces of my parents... I had not been able to stay at my house for a whole day I think. It was an unforgettable summer for me.

Everything had to end though. That  summer ended. And back in my room I was faced with this BIG QUESTION: What's next? Life taunts me... "Hey, what should you do with that degree you were so proud of?"

And I know then that I had to do something. So I started hunting jobs. But I was way too picky. I applied for jobs, passed those exams, calls here and there, all those necessary stuff. I received offers... which I all declined. Now, all of us know that applying for a job is HARD work. But I always find myself rejecting the jobs I had worked hard for. "WHY?" I asked myself every time. And the only answer I get is a vague "You know you're not ready."

I had a constant argument with myself. It went like this:

"You know you can be ready if you want to"

"Oh yeah?! That's not so simple.  My heart's not yet ready."

"You're impossible! That company is so good! You're wasting money, and we're talking about months of salary here!"

"I said I'm not yet ready."

And a new set of argument would follow suit. I wasn't ready, perhaps. Or maybe, I just needed lots of time to think things through. But I still had another problem... The Board Exam.

Honestly, I was one of those who felt unenthusiastic about BLEPP. It was just an unwanted burden that I had to take on. It made my possible career paths more difficult to achieve. I felt like Harry Potter. In a way, I was one of the first "chosen ones" who needed to walk on this unpaved road. Crazy. I felt like Harry Potter as he faced Voldemort. I was terrified. I'm aware that I was risking my name, my reputation, my dreams and a whole lot more. I'm even risking my sanity in the process, come to think of it.  And to think that I had to "waste" a precious 7 months to prepare for this hateful board exam was just too much. My life was literally put on hold. I was frustrated.

Ironically, I was one of the first few who enrolled in the review classes offered by my university. But that's only because my parents were already asking what I'd do with my life. So I put on a bright face and told them I want to review for the exam.

Funny thing is, I think I was the one who pushed my friends and blockmates (who were all as confused as I am right then) to enroll in the review classes. Haha. All I was thinking then is this: At least we've something to do... for now.  

I stopped applying for jobs. Yet I still wasn't taking the review seriously. I only went to classes because I miss my blockmates and my beautiful university. I was going through the motions. I had awful test scores every time. But I didn't care. Not really. Until I realized that I was not being myself. This is not me anymore. I've always been persistent. And when I do something, I give it the best I've got. My dislike of the board exam got in the way of my enthusiasm for life. So I decided to turn this "threat" into a "challenge" that I have to take. And I do take challenges very seriously.

Also, I  wanted to take this review time not just so I can pass the board exam, but that so I can retain most of what I've learned in the 4 years I've studied this beautiful course, Psychology. I've always been and will always be inlove with this subject. Looking back, I chose this course just because... Just because.  Haha. It was a spontaneous decision. I just wanted to study a versatile course because I still do not know what to do with my life then. I was soul-searching, in a way. But I never regretted that one spontaneous decision that changed my life. However, I realized after graduation that the versatility of this course is a double-edged sword. I wanted to be a Guidance Counselor on my first year in college, an HR Manager the next year, Clinical Psychologist on the third,  Social Worker the next, or a preschool teacher perhaps?! I wanted to do all of that. I was frustrated. Yet this review time enabled me to gather my thoughts and decide on what I really want to do with my life...

Moment by moment, I've found myself being enthusiastic and joyful about all of this. I struggle every now and then, old doubts creep in sometimes... The chances of failure was huge. But then there were my friends. I had them during college, I still have them now. Even though some of them went to med school, some are now working, others migrated... their love and support are still with me. They touched me in ways different with that of my family. Perhaps because they chose me, and stayed anyway :)

Every now and then I studied with my reviewmates/friends at coffee shops (which always turns out to be kwento time! Lol). I thought that we couldn't get any closer by now, after 4 years of being together... but we did. Sharing all those test anxieties, bouts of fear and all those feelings related to unemployment and struggles toward maturity, we supported each other more than we could ever fathom... I loved them more than ever.  Also, I am now friends with college batchmates whom I haven't even said a single hello to when we were in college. Another thing is that I've been reunited with my highschool friends who also studied psychology. I was soooo happy to be with them again. Moreover, I became closer with my sister too! She's a law student and we were both too busy sometimes. But ever since I reviewed for the board exams we became closer than ever before.                                        
The most touching thing though is my relationship with God. I admit that I didn't have enough time for Him in college. Now, I started rekindling my love for Him. I started rereading the Bible. I started to say novenas, like novenas to St. Jude and St. Claire. I also faithfully attended every Wednesday a novena mass at Baclaran. Since then I got in touched with His Suffering Mother. She also faced the unknown, she also faced uncertainties like me right now... but she triumphed.  I was so drawn to her and she gave me so much strength. My supportive parents even accompanied me to Manaog. It was such a lovely place for a soul. I felt tranquility. This review time had been turned into a beautiful spiritual experience for me as well. Also, this was a secret, but I attended mass every single day as I review. My parents thought that I was just with friends or something. It's just that our church is near and I felt that I had so much time in my hands to not be able to give Him an hour of my everyday. Attending daily mass was such a big help to me, in ways that I can't fully explain.      

A couple of months passed. Everything's going so well for me. Enlightened, that's what I am. Happy and blessed, too. Until I only had a month...  Time was terribly fast. I've only finished TOP and bits of IO then. I know I know. It's because I also reviewed Gen Psych, Biopsych, Social Psych, Beh. Measurement & Analysis and Human Dev't... Ok I know, I'm crazy. But I promised to review everything right? So I can retain the four precious years of study... But due to my stubbornness, now I barely have time anymore for the other subjects. And when I think of all the time I read novels... argh. Anyway so week by week I crammed everything as much as possible. But it was still in vain.


Those exams mocked me, alright.  The mock exams turned out to be a diagnostic exams for me. I didn't follow the pacing of our review classes. So there. I was so scared by now.

A week before the exams I was convinced I wouldn't be able to pass. Despite my faith that God could grant anything for me, I meekly told Him that no matter what happens I'd understand and I'd still be thankful for the Halcyon days He has given me.

Still, I cringe everytime I tried to picture myself failing the exams. I really tried to accept it in advance. I know that I do not deserve to pass. But I think of my parents and they sure deserve to see their daughter pass. If there was anyone as concerned as I with my future, it was my family. I couldn't bear to disappoint them. I would be shattered if I fail. Later on I learned that my father was worried that I wouldn't pass so he prayed (he's not really spiritual).

Two days before the exam I went to a Mcdo Cafe so I can burn the midnight oil with a friend. Guess what, I finished 5 large coffee refills just so I'd stay awake to finish our entire book for Human Resouce Management. I'm a fast reader, but I haven't finished it, much to my dismay. It was six am when we went home. Clap, clap, clap. That was the first time since college that I'd stay awake after midnight just to study. I've still got a day to study but I haven't even started reviewing Psych Assessment. I was so forlorn. Besides  I have no inkling on how to study that subject. I studied our handouts (I haven't even read any of our handouts yet) but I felt that it wasn't enough. By then I know that my chances of passing are getting slimmer.


Those 2 days of examination... The exams... Everything's a blur. I remember that I was studying until the very last minute. I couldn't help it. I know very well that I should be resting and stuff, but I can't. I was panicking, my heart was filled with this sickly dread that everything would go wrong. On the first day I only had 4 hours of sleep. I was nauseatingly nervous and sleepy and hopeful all at the same time. I went to St Jude first thing in the morning since I was just assigned to UE. It turned out that it was the feast day of St. Jude! Yaaay! I've always been a devotee. That morning I lighted those set of colorful candles (each color with a diff. meaning) and hoped for the best.

I was so confident with TOP but as I took the exam my confidence level dropped to zero. I was so confused about those items. I was astounded to know that I do not know this and that  (my favorite subject is TOP). At the end of the day I became depressed. I was shocked too, that others seem so confident while I was in pure misery.

Now, my friends and I wanted to attend the mass at St. Jude Shrine to be celebrated by Archbishop Tagle. Hours before the mass the church was already full, and we're lucky that we went early. I was so exhausted that I fell asleep while waiting. The mass was so long but it was worth it. That night I had 4 hours of sleep yet again. So I was sooo sleepy the next day, and I was even more devastated about the exams. I had a severe case of trichotillomania as I "tried" answering psych assessment. It was pure guesswork on my part and I was so so unhappy after finishing it.


Waiting for the results was agony... I dare not hope to pass. I was in a daze. Right after the exam I slept for 18 hours straight. 18 Hours! Classic regression. I cocooned myself in my room. After a while I tried to act okay but I was really depressed about the exams. I was in denial. I was like, "Is it really over?! Can I take it again pleeeasse?". I was even angry for all those involved with the test construction. It was awful to take an exam with typos and grammatical errors. I was so afraid of the results that I asked my friends to just look for my name as soon as the results come out. I haven't any courage.
The final Judgement

I was online when a friend sent a message. Reading "Congrats!" made my heart jumped for joy. I couldn't believe it until she sent the link. I was sooo happy. My mom was shaking as I said that I passed.  I was shaking badly too! Excitement and joy mingled, my sympathetic nervous system was on fire, the fb notifs was crazy, and I'm deliriously happy.


Midnight came and my blockmates congratulated me... for being a topnotcher.


Yet I looked it up and my name was there! I refreshed the 'abs-cbn news' page ten times just to be sure but my name was still there! WOW. YAAAY! IT'S TRUE! I never imagined that one coming! My mom and sister were jumping out of joy...


At PICC, it all came back. All the emotion I felt came crashing down on me as I went up the stage. Gratitude, immense happiness, a sense of accomplishment... Who would have thought that I, a happy-go-lucky soul, would be able to receive a medal and be standing right before such astounding persons who contributed much to psychology as a profession here in our country. And to be able to see such pride in the eyes of our college dean, my professors and especially my parents as I wore the medal... It all came back. All I can say is, thank you. I was basking in my loved ones' admiration and joy.

Now that it's over I just wanted to sear these memories in my mind, in my heart and in my soul. Lest I forget... People forget. I may forget. One thing's for sure, the person I am before all of this is so different to the person I am right now. No regrets. I'm so funny, I thought that I'd be wasting my time with this board exams. I was wrong. I was so wrong. It made me fall in love with psychology all over again. It bought me time for myself, bought me serenity, helped me grow to maturity, enabled  me to get closer with my friends, family and especially God... Truly, no matter what I'll face in the future, I'll be a better version of myself. So help me God.

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