Well, I did it. A couple of days ago, I passed my exam and am now an ACE certified personal trainer. I have to admit, it’s all a little surreal. It’s been a roller coaster of a ride filled with mixed feelings of incredible doubt to supreme self-confidence.
On Friday, I went to the university where I earned my degree, and walked the campus, waiting anxiously for my exam time. Nearly half of the campus is under construction, and it was the Friday before classes started, so the grounds were riddled with freshman awe-faces and their cautiously excited parents. Having spent four years there in school, and another two years working as a staff member, I know the campus like the back of my hand and was able to walk around almost mindlessly, people watching, and distracting myself from two and a half nerve-wracking hours to come.
With so much construction going on, there was less to keep me occupied than I had anticipated. So I went to the testing center early, and they were able to get me set up almost an hour before my scheduled exam time. The first ten questions into it, I had flagged six questions – having skipped four – and felt the anxiety rising. I started to panic, thinking, I can’t do this. I’m going to fail.
I took a few deep breaths and plowed through the questions, flagging and skipping questions wherever I felt necessary. I figured there was a good chance that other questions might help refresh my memory about the particular topic, so why make an anxious guess when I had lots of time to think about it? I know myself well enough to know that in the heat of a moment with the anxiety that high, I don’t make good choices. So after working through another 50, then 75 questions, I was feeling more calm and confident, which put me in a better mindset to handle the earlier questions.
At the end, when I submitted my exam and waited for my results to show up on my screen, I was met with…
Satisfaction survey questions.
Honestly, I thought I might cry. I was so sure I had failed and was so afraid of the results, that when I saw that I’d have to answer the survey questions before I could get my test score, I really just wanted to put a fist through the computer monitor. Instead, I filled it out quickly, not bothering to add extra comments at the end, and clicked the Continue button.
And praise the testing gods, not only did I pass my exam, but I actually did well.
Filled with relief, I closed up my work station and stepped back out onto the campus sidewalk, a perma-grin plastered on my face – I did it. And though it’s official, it still doesn’t feel quite real. As I stepped onto the bus (because only a fool would try to park on campus at the end of move-in week, let alone with the added construction) my mind whirled with questions of What now? What next? What do I do? Can I really do this?
Of course I can do this. But what are the next steps?
Now, a couple of days later, I still haven’t decided. I’m fairly certain that the personal training is going to be a part time job for a while – long enough to give me a chance to get comfortable with it, gain some experience, build my network, find some clients, and all that good stuff. Ultimately, I think I would like to do this full time. But for now, there’s this practical side of me that is constantly reminding me that I make decent money where I’m at, I have really good benefits, I have security, I have people who respect me… and I have a mortgage, and a family in its infancy, and financial responsibilities that make it unwise to totally turn my professional life on its head.
When push comes to shove, I don’t need to do anything right this second. I don’t want to wait too long, but I have enough time to take a deep breath and make a thoughtful choice about what comes next.
In the meantime, I’ll stop neglecting my blog.