In the Philippines, you’re expected to take the board exam as soon as you finish your degree no matter what school you come from. Everybody thinks highly of engineers in this country and once you earn the title Engr., some engineers use that as bragging rights. You know that’s true.
After I graduated from civil engineering, there was pride and pressure at the same time. I also felt relieved that I no longer had to go to school anymore. I thought it would be easier after graduation. I’ve heard comments about how the licensure (board) exam for civil engineering was not going to be difficult if I enrolled in a review center. So I did.
A month after I graduated, I decided to start studying for the exam. Unfortunately, it was easier said than done. While I did enroll in a review center, my focus was elsewhere. I took trips here and there because I was enjoying my freedom with my friends. My family can afford things so I also took trips abroad. I also went out with my other friends who didn’t have to take any board exam. I thought that as long as I attended review classes, I am good to go.
In short, I was overconfident with the little preparation I had.
So when I took the boards, I just thought how terrible it was for me. I just knew I screwed up. I realized how little I knew and how I wasn’t able to prepare myself properly. I started regretting all the fun things I did when I was supposed to study for the exam. I just know I fucked things up.
So it really wasn’t a surprise when I found out a few weeks later that I failed to pass the board exam. But it didn’t stop me from feeling bad about myself. While the rest of my peers were celebrating their success and posting their names from the website on their Instagram and Facebook accounts, I just sat on the corner of my bedroom thinking how this is humiliating for me. For sure it was heartbreaking for my parents as well.
Right then and there, I decided to take a break from social media. While I was happy for my friends, I just didn’t want to deal with what I’ll feel whenever I see a post about the same exam that brought me to my disposition. Every morning, I found myself having a hard time getting up and continue living. I hid from everyone and my parents constantly asked me what my plans were. They asked me if I plan to take the board exam again.
I knew the answer to that inevitable question yet I just couldn’t muster up the courage to say yes. I knew it was my fault to begin with but I just couldn’t handle the embarrassment and hurt I felt for not passing the board exam. These feelings went on for weeks until one morning, I just woke up and knew that I had to move on from this traumatic event in my life.
I decided to prepare for the board exam again. I re-examined my previous notes and realized how little I had before. So I threw them out and I decided to start fresh. I enrolled myself in a review class again and swallowed my pride. I knew I’m not the only one who didn’t pass the board exam but I also knew that it’s not easy to try again.
But I did. For months I studied whenever I can. I started to put faith in myself that second chances can be great if I just tried. I avoided distractions so I distanced myself from friends who kept inviting me for a night out. My social media accounts were still deactivated because I just didn’t want to feel bad about myself.
When exam time came, I just had a good feeling about it. I wasn’t overconfident about taking it but I know that I prepared for my second take. While it wasn’t easier, I didn’t panic anymore.
And just like any story with a good ending, I eventually passed the board exam on my second take and became an engineer. IT FELT SO GOOD, I tell ya!
So here’s a lesson to anyone who failed an exam or a subject, if you really want it, always believe that life will give you a second chance. Or third. Or fourth. No matter how many chances you get, if you give things a try again and again, you’ll eventually get the success you badly want. So it’s okay to cry after failing something – the important thing is you learn your lessons from the incident and give yourself one more chance.