Unlimited Rehearsals: The Board Exam and Working Girl Edition

The phrase “Practice makes perfect.” is a cliché but it rings true across disciplines. But it comes with a partner cliché that is not outdated in its wisdom: “Don’t give up! Keep going!”

I am posting this happily because two years after succeeding in the board exam, I finally found suitable work that made use of what my license represented. I am no longer tied to people’s expectations on where I should go. And at this point, I am genuinely happy with my decision. This job was worth going fulltime for!

One of my first tasks was AutoCAD cross section generation for a river drawing file with 35,000 points. I had some challenges because my laptop’s RAM was low. The computer just did not cooperate with what I was running in it. But the good thing that came out of it was that it made me repeat the AutoCAD commands until such time that I no longer had to consult my notes. It was just like in college where I can try these technical things out to my heart’s content.

I remember how useful repetition was when I was reviewing for the board exam. At the time, I was solving 50 math problems per day for over nine months during my personal study time. That did not include engineering major problem solving and review class exercises.

I learned how to do the calculations. I did them rain or shine, whether I was in the mood for it or not. Some days, I get less than half of the problems correctly. But I did not give up. I studied the patterns of which problem types stump me or get me stuck (time pressure is a given during the actual exam!).

I don’t always get the answers right, but I stayed with the 50 problem per day minimum. As a result, the mood and conditioning for solving problems became deeply ingrained in my system.

I got rusty when I pursued other things. But these other things enriched other facets of myself. I kind of got engrossed with the new things that I forgot to nurture my engineering technical expertise. I never imagined how much I would miss it. But I did. So much that even working on a slow laptop that hangs on me is not enough to dampen my spirits.

One would think that doing something repeatedly even when you are not in the mood will make you hate the thing or task as it gets old.

I admit, at first, I got inundated. So I avoided it for two years after I passed the board exam. But when I returned to engineering stuff this week, my joy was unparalleled. Time flies. I can stare at coordinates all day but I can still say that I am enjoying it for real. The discipline has been achieved.

I am no longer secondguessing my decision to stay in this course; all along, I was right in taking this path even though I did not want to use it fully when I first stepped out of the university.

I remembered those days when I was not sure if I’ll make it or ever get that diploma or license. And yet, I was able to do so eventually. I know that challenging as it is, I have to use it or I’ll lose it. And so, here I am, USING it again with a renewed purpose and vigor.

Many circumstances occurred in my life the last two years and it has not diminished the fact that practice still makes perfect. Tomorrow, I’ll keep doing that AutoCAD thing in the same way that I doggedly persisted in practicing for the board exam.

And I am optimistic that I will succeed in mastering my new toys as an engineer, in the same way that I mastered my problem solving skills when I was still pining to obtain my license.

Surely, it pays to have the habit of loving unlimited rehearsals. It’s the one surefire way to ensure best performance whether you are in a stage or working on a major technical problem away from the limelight.

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