As February started reeling in, the air became thick with more than the usual scurry of anxiety. No, the Valentine's Day event could not take credit for it. I will save that worry for next year. But yes, February was inevitably the month when the board exam results were slated to be released. All those fears of the unknown and qualms stashed in the back of my head came rushing back to the surface. I could not hold them in any longer. And like water in a dam, they burst forth with equal pressure and force. Every day ticked like a bomb waiting to explode with the most vital information of my life - the determinant of my fate.
We had been getting hints that the NURSING LICENSURE EXAMINATION (NLE) results will soon be in. To be frank, I wanted it to be over. I was sick beyond my limit, staying in at home, dreading over the possibility that somehow I will not make it. I was THISCLOSE to losing what little bit of sanity I have left. And you could just imagine that I did this EVERY SINGLE DAY. Surely now you understand where I’m coming from.
Since I left my job as a call center agent (CCA), I had a lot of time in my hands. I buried myself in Facebook News and Twitter pages, agonizing and waiting alongside my batchmates. Occasionally, we'd read posts from various "reliable source" that it was only a matter of minutes before our wait ended. As my brain registered its meaning, I froze in silent death, my heart hammering over my chest, a gazillion dark thoughts running through my mind as I start obsessing over "WHAT IFs", and almost giving in to my nerves and start bawling my eyes out. Then after a considerably long and painful hours accompanied by cold, clammy skin, the blatant and hard truth slapped us awake, only to tell that it was all a fluke. The results were yet to be published! I breathed a sigh of enormous relief, glad that I was spared by a few more days.
On that night of February 11, 2011 when I experienced my first NLE "SCARE", I was able to sleep early, an exceptional feat and a first in ages (being a CCA turned me into a nocturnal animal). The adrenaline and anxiety attack bid my insomnia goodbye. My circadian rhythm was back on its former glory.
Although I could assure you that it was a sound slumber, every morning I woke up to felt like a dream, more so like a nightmare, I must add. The looming possibility, that it was only a matter of days when all our fears would be laid to rest was enough to keep me on my toes, and permanently kept me in a bundle of nerves. Although Mr. Marco Sto. Tomas, a member of the Board of Nursing, clarified in his Facebook page that the 20th was aptly the target date of release, I still could not help but turn into a mush whenever I hear new tidbits regarding latest updates.
News traveled fast that our college dean mentioned that the result was moved on the 15th. When that day arrived, every single emotion of what I felt in my first NLE SCARE was made apparent. It seemed as if I was unprepared (I thought I was ready then!). I wanted to give anything to slow down time, to halt the inevitable. Inside I was weeping in silent grief, in anticipation over what was to come. But then, as you can now tell, it was yet another hoax designed to heighten our fears. Another false alarm! I wasted precious minutes over nothing! I was relieved but I became restless. When will this paralyzing fear end?
On the 16th, a friend sent a text message that Mr. Sto. Tomas allegedly confirmed that board takers should watch out on the 17th and 18th for possible release. I did not want to drag people into further anxiety so I kept the news to myself. I did not want to be amongst the people who caused others’ anxieties to skyrocket in an untimely manner. So I waited… and excruciating so as I could not share it to anyone. Furthermore, I had to keep a brave front when friends started to lose it and projected their fears on me. I kept reassuring all of them that their fears were pointless. We were all going to pass! But in my heart of hearts, there’s this gnawing doubt, a small voice that said, “Anything IS possible. There’s always that two sides of the coin, either you pass or you . . . fail.”
Had that examination been easy, I would not have writhed in apprehension. I would have gone on in my merry ways, confident that I made it. But the truth is, it so was not. It was a very difficult exam that shook me to the core. I realized how futile all my review and studying were. It did not help me immensely with choosing the right answers. I had nothing to rely on except to bow my head in prayer to God, fervent and hopeful that His divine intervention was the salvation I needed. I had done the best that I could and the rest was up to His mercy.
When the 20th drew near, I again received news that the results will soon come out on midnight of the 19th or at 12:00 – 2:00pm. Needless to say, I slept late once again. To my dismay but yes, enormous relief as well, it was not true. But at this point, I was growing impatient. I needed the results to officially jumpstart my life. I needed that confirmation so I could map out the life that I wanted to live from this moment on. That afternoon, I caught a nap because I did not sleep easy the night before. When I woke up, my friends and I were even texting and contemplating that the results will probably in by Monday, on the 21st.
As I was checking my gmail account, I signed in on Facebook and received the biggest shock of my life. On our group page, a fellow batchmate posted a vague command to open the bon.gov.ph website. I knew what that post meant. But I was already consumed by paralyzing fear and cowardice. I could not bear to do it myself. I started to hyperventilate, my palms wet in seconds and my heart pounding loudly and heavily. I seemed to have lost contact with the universe. It was an out-of-body experience! When I gained myself back, I chatted my friends and asked them to do it for me. That few seconds it took for my friends to reply was the looooooooongest seconds of my life! One friend replied back that she passed. My eyes were welling with tears! I was thinking, did I fail because she only used the pronoun “I” and not “We” As in HER and ME?
I hurriedly checked my phone and was surprised that I got a lot of text messages. But as I opened my INBOX, I found the one message that brought me to tears.
As I stared at my name in utter disbelief and gratitude, I let out a scream. In a matter of seconds, torrential tears streamed down my face. I could not help it. I was crying! Just when I learned I passed too! It was a heady feeling. I, EDEN NYSSA AMPARO CAGAS PASSED THE BOARD EXAM!!!!!!!
I wasn’t dreaming, was I? It was the greatest feeling in the world. I felt floating. I was soaring. I was HAPPY.
And in that moment, I felt infinite.