Last June I was sitting the most terrifying exams of my life to date. The last medical school exams, what we all called our "finals" even though the official line was just "fourth year exams". I felt like the hours of revision, the practical work on wards and in the skills lab, would all be wasted - there was no way I was prepared!
The following 2 or 3 weeks (I forget exactly how long) seemed to drag, my fate hanging over my head like a finely balanced sword. One slight stumble and that was it, four years of medical school wasted. I would have to cut my exchange programme short, I'd have to spend all summer revising, I'd fail the resits, I'd be thrown out. Oh, I may as well give up now - I'm not good enough for this! Melodramatic? Yes. Truly how I felt? Definitely. I spent hours tormenting myself, planning how I'd break the news to my parents, deciding on a backup plan if - or when, as I believed - it all went South. I plumped for TEFL in some far flung, exotic clime where I could forget my old life and pretend it never happened. Definitely well thought out.
On results day I was with a friend, sat on the pavement outside a library in Japan at midnight, nervously waiting for the results to go online. Email notification: technical problems, results released ASAP. Email notification: Results online! Email notification: Passed. Oh thank god, the world is beautiful again. My life plans can go on unchanged. I have passed!
Remembering that time now, I still feel the rush of relief, the overflowing joy, the amazement. It was enough, I was prepared. The hours of worry, the back-up plan, all unnecessary. But will that change my feelings in the future, when I'm waiting for the results of professional exams? Will I be more calm, relaxed, confident even? Oh no, of course I won't. That's just not how it works!