Something really weird happened to me the other day. Well, not weird, maybe. But unexpected. Surprising. Something that made me say to myself, “huh…really?” And those of you going through the studying process right now are going to know exactly why this thing made me pause and you might even not believe me when I tell you it happened. But here it is…
An aspiring agent at a party asked me how long it took me to finish my licensing exam and I had no recollection of it. What’s more, I could not remember a single detail about the test itself. Still can’t.
I remember anxiously waiting in my car in the parking lot; then anxiously waiting to check-in for the exam; and then anxiously waiting some more for the computer to boot-up and the first question to appear on the screen.
I remember my hands shaking a bit–all that adrenaline, I guess. And I remember the woman who sat next to me in the waiting room telling me that whatever test she was there to take (it wasn’t the real estate one) was one she had failed a couple of times before.
I remember the proctor coming in and out of the room a couple of times. And I remember hearing people get up and leave.
But I honestly do not remember anything about the test itself. Crazy, right? That you can spend so much time studying for something, and have so much energy and emotion rolled up in it…and then have it just disappear from your brain. It feels like something that should be burned into my consciousness.
But it isn’t.
If you’re studying right now, maybe that’s comforting for you to hear. That however massive and anxiety-producing that test is for you now, one day it will be a very distant, very hazy memory.
And one day may mean three weeks out from test day 🙂
One of the joys of my role on Rebecca’s team is that I get to reach out every day to people who are studying for and getting ready to take their exam. And when they tell me they’re nervous, or that they’re overwhelmed by the process of preparing for the test, I get to say “I’ve been there and made it through, and here’s how I did it.” My hope is that it helps them the same way it helped me when Rebecca mentored me through the process.
You’ll probably forget the details of your exam too, just as I’ve forgotten mine.
But remember some things. Remember the anxiety and the long nights and the pep talks. Remember the frustration of trying to get your brain to learn so much new stuff, and the joy you felt when you heard you passed. Remember the things people told you that helped make the whole thing a bit easier. Remember the studying plan you followed that led to your success.
Those are the important things to remember. Because when a nervous aspiring agent asks you how long it took you to take your test, that’s not really what they’re asking. Okay, it’s what they’re asking but I don’t think it’s what they’re really after.
What they want is to know the experience in some way that makes it not so intimidating. They want to stand face-to-face with someone who can tell them they’ve been there, done that and bought the t-shirt. They want to normalize this experience–to make the unknown, known. And they think that if they just can ask the right question; if that person could just give them that one detail that makes the whole thing less shrouded in mystery; then they’ll feel okay.
Of course you and I both know that the only way to know the experience is to go through it. So, in that way you can’t give them what they want. But…
You can remember. You can sit in the corner of the room at a summer party with them and be a living, breathing example of someone who was just as intimidated as they are and got through it. You can sit with them in that anxious space and then give them something encouraging to grab on to. You can tell them the things you did to calm your nerves, or structure your study time. If you didn’t pass the first time you took the test, you can tell them that too, if you want. And then tell them how you tried again.
That, I think, is the meaning we can make out of the studying process. Yes, we study to get our license and so that we can be knowledgeable, responsible brokers. That’s definitely true. But there is often so much emotion wrapped up in this, that making meaning out of the journey is important too.
Wherever you are on your journey, I hope it’s a joyful and fulfilling place to be.