Because it’s September.

Tonight marks two years since the night I learned I passed my licensure exams. I’ll always feel good about myself on this date. It’s the reason I’ve begun to think of early September as a time of fresh starts—and because last year, it was also in early September that I started working. But to be really honest, those experiences—that whole review period (three months living in Manila alone with the almost-unbearable pressure of making sure I pass the exams in one take), and the seven months of rotating hospital shifts that just about killed my spirit—they’ve begun to feel like distant dreams to me. I now find it so strange to think that it was me experiencing it all. That once upon a time, those were my daily routines. That those were realities, and I was able to put up with all of them. I mean, of course, a good chunk of the stuff that come to mind when I think about those times aren’t pretty, but September makes me remember that there were still plenty to smile about. It’s like, there’s something in the air at this time of year that whispers to me of bravery and accomplishment and change, and reminds me to be fearless when it comes to these things.

This year, there’s no huge new thing that I’m starting this month (because that already happened in June), but somehow…the spirit of fresh starts is still here. (Well, actually, there are these tiny seeds of a plan to cleanse myself from social media—to gradually distance myself from Twitter, mainly, and hopefully the rest will follow [and I know I can do it, as I’ve already been inactive on Facebook for years]—I kind of always feel like I’m falling into a hole when I spend more and more time online, and the longer I stay inside this hole the more I feel like I’m being consumed by the vacuous and the mundane, so the healthy option is to just claw my way up and out. But… that’s not the point of this post. And maybe talking about it will preempt it so I’d rather not go to it in detail.)

The point of this post is that it’s September, and I’m feeling good about myself, and I’m remembering happy September memories, so I will share two very brief stories related to my licensure exam experience that I always wanted to share. Like if someone were to ask me to tell them something special from that time, these are the first two things I’m going to say.

Because perhaps most of all, September reminds me never to get tired of saying thank you.

Typed on my phone’s Notes, January 20th, 2014.

I don’t know if I ever told anyone this, but my father correctly predicted my board exam rating while we were eating lunch at Greenwich two days before the results came out. My response to him at the time was, “Ha! I wish.” Well, the wish came true. It was a weird experience.

Let me preface this story by first saying that the last evaluations I had before the actual exam itself were the mock boards our review center held, and my rating in those exams was 72. Obviously, that’s not a passing score. It’s three points short. I knew that there was a good chance that the mock boards would be more difficult than the actual exams, and I did find out that 72 was the top 6 score in our section (of 200-something students from all over the country), but did I ever take the time to focus on that? Did I even try to make myself feel better? No. In those panicky days leading up to the exams, one could not afford to be overconfident; to me, 72 was what it was—a failing mark. There was no going about it; it would have to be my springboard. To 82 (a must, I vowed) and then to 92 (ambitious, but ambition was necessary) so that if I slipped a little, I’d fall down to the high eighties. Hopefully. But even that was already pushing it.

Anyway, that was my mindset, going into the exams and even afterwards—that getting to the high eighties would be a stretch. Although mostly I resolved not to think about it at all, after. I wanted to just be told I passed or failed; none of the anxiously-refreshing-the-PRC-website crap. So when my dad came to fetch me, which was when this story happened, I was already in a pretty chill state (in that fragile just-don’t-talk-to-me-about-the-exams-and-we’ll-be-fine way. lol). We’d gone out to eat lunch ahead of our flight home. I think it was my choice to eat at Greenwich (because lasagna) and I was the one who waited in line to settle our orders. After the transaction, the cashier gave me our order number, and I took it to our table, where my dad was waiting. As I was taking my seat, my dad suddenly blurted out, “That’s gonna be your board exam score.” He was pointing at the number. I looked at it. 89.

“Ha! I wish.”

I shook my head, not even thinking for a second that it was serious; that’s how my dad is—he makes jokes like that. And he really wasn’t serious; he was just trying to make me feel better, not pressuring me. (Come to think of it, that was probably proof that he was more nervous than I was, if he was seeing exam scores in fastfood order numbers!) So we just continued to wait for our meal and that was that.

Some days later, our ratings were available to view online. (If I told you I was more nervous about finding out what my rating was compared to the earlier stress of knowing whether I’d pass or not, I wouldn’t be lying.) After plenty of deep breaths, a short bout of tachycardia, and some seconds of the anxiously-refreshing-the-PRC-website crap, I finally saw the scores I got… and I maybe screamed internally in disbelief because what the freaking fffff how the holy hell did I get 89.20….?! And then my jaw dropped the widest because the next thought that came to me was that moment in Greenwich.

So I ran, laughing the entire time, to my father. “You were right! You were right!”

The funny thing was, when I reached him and fumbled over my words in excitement, “remember in Greenwich…when you pointed to the number…you were right!!!” I could totally tell that he had no idea what I was talking about. He didn’t remember. (My brain is possibly the only one that keeps random weird stuff like that in its long term memory.) But he was happy, oh was he happy, seeing my score and seeing me like that, telling him he was right, telling him it was because of him. Cus it was because of him. In so many more ways than just a jokey prediction.

Thanks, Pops.

******

But of course I can’t help but be just a teeny, tiny, bit bratty and think—why couldn’t the Greenwich cashier have given me the 90 order number?!? *laughing emoji*

******

ETA, 2015: My board exam rating was 0.3/three tenths of a point shy of breaking the top ten, and that’s always been frustrating especially since I still remember which questions I could so have gotten right—and sometimes I wished I got a score a little farther from the top scores just so I never had to lose sleep over it. Lol. But in retrospect, I may have narrowly escaped a bigger mess after all. Because then the questions I would be dealing with now would’ve been along the lines of, “Board topnotcher tapos ayaw mag-Medicine? MedTech board topnotcher tapos biglang mag-aaral ng Computer Science? WTF?!” and, ya know. *handflick emoji*


Journal excerpt, October 23rd, 2014.

Here’s one fact I keep neglecting: Quite possibly the only reason I didn’t go insane in those months living alone in Manila last year were the phone calls I got from my Ma every single night. Like. Every. Single. Night. I’m not kidding. I keep forgetting that when I reminisce those review days, but seriously, that’s the thing that got me through—getting to talk to my mother every night, without fail. She didn’t always have a particular reason for calling; she’d tell me all the tiny details about her day, or ask me how I was doing, or remind me about my meals and my laundry, or sometimes just listen to me talk…but she called every night. No misses. Basically being my rock through it all. She was the one who kept me going.

Love ya, Ma.

Thank you to my parents, who honestly deserve to be loved and honored more than I ever get to show them. (And, I mean, my genes came from them. So they can definitely thank themselves for all of it. Hahaha.)

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