Life As We Know It

Life is composed of winding roads, bumpy humps and thorny paths; with smooth sailing journeys dotted along the way. There are also unpleasant surprises lurking somewhere, grabbing us by the throat when we least expected it. We try to stand tall and strong against these challenges; and depending on how we go about it, could lead to inspirations, and hard-earned lessons.

Years ago, I attended a postgraduate school in the UK and part of the curriculum is financial accounting. No, it’s a prerequisite and could not really finish the course without it. Don’t get me wrong, I like numbers especially those in currencies (hey, tell me who doesn’t). I find math pretty straightforward, though it could get arduous and boring. Well, I personally think, the best way to beat math is through practice, practice and more practice.

Anyway, we’re approaching the finals then and we were given plenty of practice materials. So in between dealing with a challenging night job and other subjects, I spent hours poring over these materials; really determined to ace the exam.

After cups of cappuccino (or black tea, whenever I felt I had too much) and fitful sleeps later, exams day came. I thought, this is it. I could feel it in my gut that I would make it. I was feeling very much optimistic and excited, because really, what could go wrong?

When I saw our exam paper, I grinned inwardly and gave myself a high five. Sitting in front of me was a set of typical multiple type questions along with an essay type, which were not really a hardship. The last part was what gave me the the shivers. We have to choose between a case study where we have to interpret some data, and the other one, was a straightforward problem solving. And yes, you got it right! It was taken out (literally) from our practice materials. Well, figures were different but the solution and ways of getting to that solution  were one and the same. Of course, I chose the later. In my mind, I was rubbing my hands in glee, and promised myself a Nora Roberts latest book release at Waterstones on my day-off.

When we were all done, and taking a break before another exams, I went back to my notes and realized to my horror that I had done a teeny weeny mistake, albeit a very crucial one and integral part of the equation. I had wanted to tear my hair out and scream out my frustration. I rap my head instead on the table, berating  myself for my stupidity.

And that was how life taught me lessons – the hard way. How come we always get to learn a lesson the hard way?

ATTENTION TO DETAILS. The problem with most of us is we tend to rush things. We want to get to the end quickly, to achieve the goals we set for ourselves in the shortest time possible. And this often times lead to failure, if not unsatisfactory results. Every. Single. Time. We should not only set our eyes and focus our attention to the prize, but we must also take into consideration all the circumstances around it. After assessing all parts with due diligence, we need to discard the things that we think are not part of the solution and concentrate on the parts that will surely help us get there.

DON’T BE COMPLACENT. We live in a fickle world and there are no guarantees in life. Things are not always as perfect as they seem, and we should always be ready for any eventuality. Strive harder. Don’t settle for good, aim for the best.

DON’T DWELL ON PAST MISTAKES. Don’t let them wear you down. Rather, treat each failure as part of a learning curve and apply lessons learned on the next hussle.

Maybe you’re wondering how did I do with my grades after that fiasco. My score was a bit low and it was sticking out like a sore thumb as compared with my other subjects. But I was really thankful I did not flunk it. That’s another thing, and a positive way of looking at failures and disappointments – we compensate for them by giving our best in other areas. We could not get the best of both worlds, but we can choose how to deal with it so we can arise as victors at the end.

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