Life’s Little Surprises in Tests

All of us have those moments in time that we passed a test that others thought we wouldn’t. I’ll give you a prime example. When I was fifteen, my mom taught me how to drive a straight drive. I struggled to learn how to drive with it because my mom made me nervous with every critique. There was very little understanding from her and a whole lot of intimidation. We practiced and practiced until I turned sixteen. On that day, I went to get my driver’s license. Now, keep in mind that you had to know how to parallel park, and if you didn’t know how to do that, you better pray you didn’t get a driver’s instructor that made you do that skill. Strategically thinking, we went to a DMV in NC that had a smaller size population. I went to take the written test and passed it with flying colors. Then came the moment I was dreading. I had to go with an instructor and prove I could drive. I had gotten skilled at a three-point turn, and by the grace of God, that skill was what I was tested on and not parallel parking. I said a silent prayer of thanks and did the three-point turn with ease. Just as I was finishing, it started to rain. Now, in all the times that I practiced parking, not once did it rain. The driving instructor had to tell me where on the car I’d practiced on the windshield wipers were located; not once did I have to use the windshield wipers during practice. I aced everything but locating that item and then was embarrassed that I didn’t know where to find something so simple.

We pulled up to the DMV after my test, and I asked my instructor how I did. He informed me that I had passed. I had this solemn look on my face, in part stunned that I passed, and in part disbelief, and as I got to the front doors of the building where my mom was waiting on me. “Well?” my mother asked as I entered the building. “I passed,” I responded as I proceeded to walk by her. The following words she uttered forever remain in my memory. “You little shit,” she replied. To this day, that has become my nickname with her. I swear if I ever get Alzheimer’s or Dementia, the caregiving staff will have a field day with me because if they ask what my name is, I’ll probably respond with “little shit.” It’s those kinds of incidents in our lives that never leave our memories. Something so innocent can leave lasting marks forever. Mom and I still joke about that nickname, and I know that she didn’t mean it maliciously. She said it because I would not pay attention in her mind when I was learning to drive, and in my mind, she made me so nervous that I was scared I’d mess up and couldn’t do anything right. Both of us had our reasons for reacting the way we did. Was it right or wrong? Who knows. But we both grew after that experience, especially after the emotions settled down, and we could discuss our feelings and how each other’s actions affected our decisions.

The data entry courses I’m taking are another example of passing things that I never thought I could. When I started this series of certifications, everything was easy. Then the information started getting more complex and challenging. These courses involved more research and studying with this material. When I went to college at Guilford College, my studies were writing intensive. We had to write more papers than I’ve ever had to write, and writing a thirty-two-page essay was something of a challenge for me. I could write eight to ten pages without any hesitation but keeping the topic pertinent and on point for thirty-two pages made me feel like I had a lot of tweaking to do. A friend of mine says it’s easy to bullshit your way through papers, and sometimes she’s right. But when you are dealing with a world of academia, the professors can see right through the BS.

I’ve often heard Bullshit can substitute the initials in a Bachelor’s of Science degree. Let me tell you that might be true with some people, but it wasn’t for me. I worked my tail off on those papers. Two weeks before graduation, a professor accused me of plagiarism. That paper wasn’t plagiarized. I had the arguments and proof, and the professor refused to listen. I had to take the case to the dean of students. I told the dean that I was five days from graduation. The issue dropped because I proved my point, but the grade stood. That professor failed me because I disagreed with his mindset. I dared to challenge the system, and I got punished. But I passed a test for myself that was more important than any class I could have taken. When we fail to pass something, we have to fight hard to prove ourselves in this world. And when we do pass, when we’ve gotten used to failing, we have to understand that everything has a price. Sometimes that price means that you get ribbed for passing by those closest to you. Other times it means that your classmates and peers will see you as a Scarlet letter of sorts. The question isn’t if you are good enough to pass; will you allow yourself to go to other opportunities that you might not have treaded if life didn’t intervene?

Life is full of tests. Some are easier to pass than others, and sometimes we don’t even know what difficulties we face. Our patience gets stretched to the max. Look at how my mom dealt with me learning to drive. I pushed every button on her patience level that exists. I’m still alive and thriving, but I learned many lessons over the years. Driving is a privilege, and not everyone gets that opportunity, but they shouldn’t be reckless for those who do. I wanted to be a race car driver for years but couldn’t get the confidence to learn how. I failed the test of trying many times throughout my life and have only recently learned that stretching ourselves mentally and physically is necessary to grow out of our complacency.

When your kids’ test every ounce of patience that you have, remind yourself that it’s a phase. When your employment tests every ounce of energy you have, you have the power to change it like I’m doing. You don’t have to fail your own set of tests that you create to see a bigger picture. We all learn at different points in our lives. Sometimes the lessons we learned give us a laugh, and other times we face conflicting emotions due to those tests and outcomes. No matter what tests life throws your way, please know that you aren’t alone. Many people face the same challenges with the same types of questions you are and don’t always express those emotions well. We all want to pass the tests we receive, whether academic, personal, professional, physical, mental, or psychological. But even if we fail, we learn from those failures. Failures create successes because of the drive or things that never come to fruition because we allow those failures to win.

I know someone who gave up on his dreams. He was up for a job that he wanted badly. He went through the tests and had a brilliant IQ, but he didn’t get the desired position. That failure determined his choices in life. He’s never truly been happy since that occurred and is working in a safe job. He doesn’t go after what he wants anymore because that situation created a domino effect in his life. He can tell you just about anything you ever wanted to know about sports and history. Still, his communication skills are poor, his follow-through is practically non-existent, and his drive and ambition are down the toilet. I don’t know that he’ll ever get his life together because his family is notorious for poor communication. He has his reasons, but he’s almost so bright that he’s dense. Perhaps you know people like this. They allow their failures to be the ultimate tests they can never pass because people find themselves stuck in neutral with nowhere they can shift gears to pass.

Use today to look at life a little differently. We don’t have to study for every test we receive, but we have to look at ourselves confidently and proudly. I’ve always heard the phrase “fake it til you make it,” and I’ve been guilty of doing this act. The problem with that is faking things only takes you so far. When you use your heart to go after what you want, at least you’ve given your best. Failing and passing tests is a given in our lives. But living life to the fullest is the best way to pass the test of life. Have a great day, everyone.

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