Yesterday, I took final one of four for the last term of my first year at Booth, and boyyy was it a kicker! Financial Statement Analysis I (or “Footnote Accounting” in Booth-speak). Earlier this term, my professor had told us “Accounting is like working out. If you go to the gym and just watch people lift weights, you won’t develop any muscles. You have to do your practice problems if you want to build any accounting muscle!” I laughed when he said this, but over the course of the term, I learned the hard way that he was so right.
I am used to new material coming naturally to me – I work hard, yes. But that work always leads to swift learning and results on exam day. I expected this class to be no different. When we reached the midterm and I didn’t perform to my standards, I realized I had been neglecting my "training." While I worked away day in and day out at my swimming, biking, and running, and prepared cases and problems sets for my other classes, and worked with my Girls on the Run, I had let my accounting slip through the cracks. There's no excuse for it. So, in hindsight, how could I have expected to perform? When have I ever toed the line at a race without having done the training to back up my performance and expect to emerge victorious? As Howard Tullman noted in his recent Inc. Magazine blog post, “You get what you work for, not what you wish for.”
I focused in on accounting in the latter half of the term, and I made significant progress... hopefully enough to do well in the course!.... but based on my initial assessment of how the final went, I fear it may have been too little, too late.
I had to laugh when I caught myself thinking “I would SO much rather have to do the worst workout, race, etc. my coach could possibly give me than take this exam.” It is the first exam in a while I can remember dreading, and I had to draw upon the mental strength and focus I have developed through many years of races, performances, and nightmare-ish workouts (although, on the bright side, at least my wrist is healed enough that I can write! – just in time). While the final did not go as I had hoped (at least, I don’t think it did), I take heart in knowing that you are not a “failure” if you fail. I have still learned so much from this class, and it is how I use that new knowledge and experience to grow as a person and a professional that will define me. As Katerina Witt says in a recent Forbes interview, “Going through the valleys makes you appreciate the hills.”
What’s more, at the end of the day, people around the world are dying, starving, enduring pain and suffering that I could probably not imagine.... while I stress about a sore wrist and ankle and a final exam. That doesn't make my problems less important, but I do recognized I am so blessed to be at a school that stretches me and pushes me to grow in more ways than one, to be (relatively) healthy, and to have friends and family who love me (and I love in return). While sometimes it’s hard to appreciate that when I'm in the weeds, at the end of the day, exams come and go. Its these things that count. If we are who we choose to be, I choose to be a woman who doesn't loose sight of the end goal, who always keeps in mind the things that truly matter, who never gives up in the face of challenges big or small, and who always (ok, almost always) keeps a smile on her face.
Three more finals to go this week… here’s to being on top of a hill by Friday!