I’m not one to get sweaty palms.
Usually just a blotchy face and neck.
And I always thought I could concentrate when life called for it.
But when I sat at a generic testing center with a lot of rules last Thursday night to take a 200 multiple choice question certification exam, my normal functions seemed to disappear. I needed to reread the first sentence of the questions before I went on to the subsequent sentences that made up each question. Occasionally on the fourth read of the first sentence, I’d absorb the meaning for the first time. Maybe because something in the upper left hand corner of the screen caught my eye the first three times, distracting my brain into what if scenarios. For moments at a time, I’d get lost in the dread of hitting submit and subsequently finding out I did not pass. Of having to go to work the next day, put my ego aside, and tell my boss and peers that I was not PMP certified. Then I’d reel myself back to the question. Remind myself to go question by question and not think about the end. To ignore that ticking clock until it said something threatening. By the time I was ready to submit – 4 hours and 19 minutes elapsed; 11 minutes ticking down – my palms were slipping off the mouse. My upper body clenched in expectation. I hit submit and had to watch the computer think. Was this computer from 1992? After some computer system thought, complete with the old school sound effects, it asked to confirm that I wanted to submit…then it thought again…then prompted me to take a survey. Somewhere during the duration of those nine questions, I detached from the consequences and became ready to accept whatever the end result of my efforts were. I could not regret my preparation, which included sacrificing the things I love to do – running, yoga, blogging and preparing/eating great meals – to fit in study time. For three weeks, we ate quick meals, then I went to the office until 10pm. Friends came to visit, and I sat quietly stressing out in the corner. I’d done flash cards at red lights and broken done the studying into daily assignments that kept me from sleep if I missed a self-imposed deadline. I hadn’t passed a mock exam. So I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw that I passed. And better yet, the test didn’t reveal a score, so there’s no way to dwell on how much or how little I passed by. I went home filled with adrenaline and unable to sleep, which I realized was also the result of my 4pm study latte – oops.
Life didn’t quite stop then. After a full workday Friday and celebration dinner at my favorite local restaurant, we headed out at 6am Saturday morning for the man’s hometown. I love visiting with my future family and going to weddings – we had one Saturday night – but traveling is tough on the body. A three day weekend almost always throws me out of whack.
Never mind weeks without a routine.
So I’m sitting on the plane home now, filled with adrenaline again. But this time my anticipation is of a normal day tomorrow. Like go for a run kind of normal. Like buy enough groceries for more than a day or two kind of normal. Like cook dinner at home and settle in for a relaxing evening with the man kind of normal. I haven’t had much of that for close to a month. The long days leading up to now were stressful, but fulfilling. My determination led to positive results that will help my career. And though I’m all about advocating fitting in exercise and other self-care, finding a balance is also important. Knowing what to prioritize is something that I can continue to work on. Perhaps I could have gotten out of bed in the mornings to fit in a few more workouts. Maybe I could have called it quits before 10pm a couple nights in an effort to clear my mind and sleep better when I hit the sheets. But oh well. No regrets. I passed. And now I get one of those fresh starts that I so love. When it feels like from this day forward, anything is possible and I am working toward a healthier body and life. Bring it on!