What the actual f*ck is wrong with me?

Yesterday should have been a good day. One where I was happy, content, and proud of my efforts. Yet I managed to make myself feel the complete opposite.

Studying for an exam is always a bit meh. Finding time and peace to study is probably the hardest bit for me. Then there is the fact I’m a very visual and hands on kind of person. I honestly cannot just sit and read literature to take stuff in. I will read a paragraph and get to the end thinking “what the fuck did I even just read?”, then have to read it again and again. If I cannot envision something in my minds eye, I struggle to appreciate the concept, does that make sense?

Well, given all of this, in my infinite wisdom, I decided to not read the official books, and just watch training videos. I watched two sets of training videos over 8 weeks. I got to the day before my exam before I went back over the exam topics. I took each heading, googled it, and read the relating Cisco article/wiki page. It was at this point I realised that I didn’t know a lot of what I needed to know. There were nitty gritty bits I’d not even heard of, solutions that weren’t even touched on. Queue panic! I was awake until 11:30, trying to take in the information on these sites. It just wasn’t going in, mainly because I was reading tired, and in a bit of a panicked state.

I have then woken up at 3:30am, and convinced myself I have to study again. At first I tried some you tube videos, this was in vane. I then read back over my notes, just in case I had covered these things and just wasn’t remembering. Nope. No notes on them. I started to google things again, and go over the topics. Still feeling like I wasn’t taking anything in.

When I got to the test centre, I was so tired, but at the same time completely wired with nerves. I was shaking so bad that I couldn’t even do my signature. As the test started, I had convinced myself I was going to fail. I hadn’t studied properly, I didn’t know everything I needed to know etc. First question came up on the screen and it was such an easy one. One I could have answered just from doing my day to day job. The rest of the questions felt much the same. None of them appeared to be on these topics I tried to panic study. I then got a question about a particular product, and only because of my panic studying, I was able to make an educated guess based on the multiple choice answers of what it must be. Then there were a few more questions like that.

When the test finished, I had passed with 93%. I couldn’t believe it! I was so happy. My shaking got worse but this was happy, excited shaking. I started to well up as I got back to the car. All that stressing and studying had paid off. Or had it?

I had about an hours drive to get back to work. I started to think about the exam. My last minute cramming. The fact there were a lot of questions where educated guesses were made. I started to dwell on these questions and realise that without the multiple choice, I wouldn’t have known the answer. So did I deserve to pass? No. That was my conclusion. My being totally elated with passing, was short lived. The whole way back, I beat myself up for being a charlatan. I’d felt like I’d cheated. Like I didn’t deserve the pass.

What did I do next? Yup, you guessed it. I Debbie Downered the shit out of it. With every congratulations I got, especially with my high score, I felt the need to explain that I didn’t feel it was deserved. I also felt the need to reiterate that I got lucky with the questions, had it been another set of questions it may be a different story all together. This really got me down. The more I thought, and explained it, the worse and worse I felt.

Someone told me to be happy with the result, and explained that I’m a high stress person, who’s too self critical and that can “stress out the most laid back of people”. Ummm, thanks? Naturally this has been dwelling on my mind and now I’m worried that my disdain for myself is pissing others off. Very good. I have had people accuse me of using online cheating material, in a banterous way, but still, as you can imagine that has sent the panic flying; “what if they think I have cheated?!? I have made educated guesses on a lot of the questions, I don’t actually know what I’m talking about without the help of multiple choice. I don’t fully understand”. I had torn myself into pieces, and left myself feeling really shit about the whole thing. My boss joked that I could go back and resit it again if I really wanted, and a part of me thought I should. I actually took that into serious consideration.

After a couple of hours I had well and truly convinced myself that I just didn’t deserve the pass, or people’s congratulations. This was until I spoke to my friends. The ones who help me see the rational side of things. I had one tell me, that a pass is a pass, I did it on my own and it was deserved. Then another quite rightly pointed out that exams are just to show that you understand the concepts, that you are yet to implement, like a driving test. You can demonstrate that you can manoeuvre the car safely, but you don’t actually learn how to drive and be confident with it, until you’ve been out driving on your own for a while. I see their point, and my colleagues points too, but I still don’t feel happy like I think I should. I don’t feel like I deserve it.

In my counselling sessions, it has been touched on that there is a definite pattern of me not allowing myself to be happy. I have to put myself down. That is exactly what I’ve done. Why?!? Why must I do this! I have been studying so much in the last few weeks that I’ve barely seen my kids. I’ve been so moody, stressed and highly strung about the whole thing. I have passed with 93%!! And yes, with educated guesses, but for fuck sake, I did it! Me! Last minute cramming or not, I did it. I also know the topics I’m not 100% on, and I can now work on those.

Despite me knowing that I should allow myself to be happy, I just can’t. I am now also worried about how others in my work perceive me! Do they think I’m a charlatan? Does my being a Debbie Downer piss them off? Do I just piss them off? Do they even like me at all? Oh my god, just stop!! Like seriously! I need this shit to stop! I’m driving myself to distraction!

One of my best friends popped over last night and I was able to chat with them. It was great to get it all out and have them understand and help me see sense. I do fully appreciate how I’m being, but it’s hard to break a habit of a lifetime.

Positives here? Well, I’m now recognising the negative patterns and seeing that I need to break the cycle. How I do that I’m not too sure yet, but I have my appointment on Tuesday, where I will discus this with them. They have said that they’re going to help me retrain my thoughts, so I can have a more positive view of myself.

Now to get up, and try to enjoy my weekend and realise that I’m a good person, who works bloody hard and deserves my pass and to be happy! Easier said than done right? But, I’m at least going to try.

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