I’m gonna try with a little help from my friends.

I did a lot of thinking this weekend (more thinking than studying it turns out, but we’ll get to that later) about my priorities and life, and how they relate to my Structural Systems exam preparation.  It’s no secret that I’ve been frustrated with how the process is going.

The short of it is that I’m in love.  Not a mushy, kissy faced love, but a deep admiration for and bond to people and places that can’t be ignored.   My family and friends graciously include me in their spring plans, and I’ve  found my social circle growing with new acquaintances.  I pine for Nate like we were first dating and try to spend as much time with him as I can…I’m sincerely excited about what our future will bring.  On match days, the Timbers are my life (waiting in line 4+ hours for our favorite seats in the army has become a regular occurrence).  The sun has literally shed a new light on Portland, and I long to be out  soaking up the city rather than stuck indoors.  This urban exploration has pushed me out of my creative rut, and I can’t get enough of design.  My sketchbooks are full of ideas waiting to be acted upon, and I’m becoming increasingly fascinated with photography thanks to Nate, a photographer, who has finally pulled me over to the dark side.

These moments have become my priorities.  I find myself doing anything to appease my heart while my brain goes “waaaaaiiit…you were supposed to study!!”  While I don’t think there’s anything wrong with making time to develop relationships and pursue hobbies, the joyous obsession they bring outshines the rigor and dedication the AREs demand. For me, at this point in my life, that’s not  sustainable.  I don’t think I’ve made bad choices, but at the end of the day I’ve neglected a less exciting, yet nonetheless important part of my life.  As my grandpa once said (as only a grandpa could): “Well, that’s what happens when you’re stupid and in love.”

As I was reassessing my situation, I hopped onto areforum to see how others were fairing.  I read numerous post-exam thoughts where people talked about how they prepared for their exams.  Many mentioned similar situations with busy social lives getting in the way of their studying.  I was truly moved by the few who talked about their homes…moms and dad who only got a few hours to study after the kids went to bed in the evening.  I could only imagine how challenging that would be, and I’m sure there are countless more situations that examinees have found themselves in.  I realized that if others could get through the process while dedicating so much of their time to other priorities, there was absolutely no reason why I couldn’t balance my loves with my exams…and quit moping about doing so in the process.

So that brings us to today.  I rescheduled the structures exam, which proved to be a heck of an ordeal. (I don’t recommend rescheduling if you can manage!)  Navigating Prometric’s automated menus only got me to testing center location information on repeat. I ended up just punching random numbers on the keypad (part out of curiosity, part out of rage) until the system got confused and sent me to an operator.  I have no idea how that cunning plan worked…but thank God it did.  After their scheduling program crashed not once but three times, they finally got my appointment confirmed. 42 minutes later my exam was moved to Saturday June 9.

My study guide is still rough, and is currently 94 pages long.  About 60 of those need to be cleaned up and reviewed still…which I think it my next step.  I tried working on that over the weekend, but the quantity of pages and amount of material to revise was more of an obstacle than I was ready for.  I started working through kaplan, and I’m actually excited to try the Q&A book, which I’ve heard is helpful.  Still haven’t touched the vignette, that might become a major priority this week, too.

In general, I’m happy and relieved.  I can’t waste any time and I know I need to buckle down and get to work, but I also feel like the extension has given me a second chance to prove how I can dedicate enough time to all of the priorities in my life.  It’s going to be a jam packed month, but with planning and self-control I know I can successfully get through it.  I’m so fortunate to have the support of my family and friends.  They constantly offer to help, I only wish I knew how to take them up on it! Asking if they want to solve moment diagrams has so far proven fruitless.

As a final note, I just wanted to say a quick thank you to all of you.  I was shocked to see that AREndurance rolled over 10,000 views this weekend.  I never dreamed that the narratives about my experience and the sharing of my study guides would gain such a following.  I’m truly am deeply humbled.  My most heartfelt thanks to you all for reading, sharing your tips, and offering your advice.  While I might not know any of you personally, you remain one of my biggest inspirations.  Cheers!!

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