By now, you have probably noticed that there is something different about me. I'm conspicuously absent from family get-togethers, tailgating, happy hour, and sadly enough – even some of my kids' school or sports events. If I haven't seen you for awhile and we start talking, my mind probably drifts off into somewhere else, only to zone back in 20 seconds later as I nod and I try to fake like I know what you just said.
Forgive me, it's not intentional – it's really not. If I had my choice, the two of us could sit down for coffee and chat for hours on end and you would have my complete undivided attention.
You see, I am trying to accomplish something for my career and my future that is extremely draining on just about every level – emotionally, financially, physically, and even spiritually at times, I suppose. This thing is a monster. It's the CPA Exam.
When I went to college and earned my accounting degree, I could have stopped there and spent the rest of my life as a staff accountant. I didn't want that. I wanted more for myself and my family. So, I decided not to settle for “average” and I went for it. I took the plunge and tackled one of the absolute hardest professional exams out there. Did I mention that it has about a 25% first time pass rate? Ask your doctor or lawyer if their medical boards or bar exam flunk around 75% of the people who step up and take it the first time. Yes, it's that hard.
Consequently, I'm going for this certification all the while trying my very best to balance working, being a husband/wife, boyfriend/girlfriend, friend, brother/sister etc. and there's a good chance that I'm coming up short. This wears on me, trust me. I want this thing to be over yesterday. I hate the disappointing looks from my boss or co-workers when I fail. I can't stomach telling all of you that the last 2.5 months of evening and weekend studying was all a waste because I failed and have to start over. It really makes me sick thinking about it, honestly.
This letter is to let you know that I am trying my very best to get through this, so please stick with me.
To my Husband/Wife:
Of all people in my life, you are probably getting the short end of the stick. By the end of the day, after navigating grouchy bosses, crazy co-workers, and frustrated babysitters, it's all that I can do to help get the kids ready for school the next day, fed, bathed, and in bed and still have some semblance of sanity left. As the clock hits 9pm, I suddenly realize that I have 2 hours of studying to do tonight if I want to keep on track and pass Financial Accounting and Reporting. I would say that I can skip it – but that's what I said last night. As I head back to the study area, leaving you on the couch to make conversation with the remote control, I feel absolutely terrible and part of me wants to throw the books in the trash and come back out and join you.
I need your support above all people. I absolutely cannot do this without your emotional encouragement. I'm a goner if I don't have it. Please forgive me for making it seem like you are just above “paying the electric bill” on my list of priorities, because you really aren't. In reality – I need to be more intentional. How about a Friday date night once a week where we get out of the house and no studying? We need that.
To my Boyfriend/Girlfriend:
Wow – this is probably not what you signed up for. That fun, out-going person that you knew has been replaced by a busy, over-scheduled grump that has a date with an accounting book six nights a week, it probably seems. Stick with me! If I was marriage material before the exam, I still am! I'm still that same person – I'm just incredibly stressed. Get me out of the house once a week – I need a life! Drag me away from those books. I need a break. When I do need to study, please hang with me and support me. Maybe you can take up something yourself and study right along with me? Let's do this together.
To my Friends:
I know that I've been M.I.A. from going out, shopping, football games, The Office watch parties and overall, I've been a bad friend. Take this note as permission to call me up to do something sometime soon, and I'll say “yes”. I'll even leave my laptop at home.
To my Family:
I'll be honest, I kind of like being able to skip out on family reunions. OK, that was a joke. Sort of. I miss seeing you – I just don't miss those awkward conversations with Uncle Ted who I see once every three years. You know Uncle Ted and how he can be. I know that in the past when I called you to tell you that I had passed a section of the exam, you assumed that I was finished with everything. Unfortunately, that's not the case. There are actually four sections to get through. I just didn't want you to think that I was making up excuses to not see you by studying for something I had already passed. When this thing is all over and I'm a newly minted CPA, we're all going out to dinner. (Just don't invite Uncle Ted, please).
I miss you all – I need your support!
Your Husband/Wife/Boyfriend/Girlfriend, Brother/Sister/Son/Daughter/Grandson/Granddaughter/Nephew/Niece, Friend – Future CPA
Jeff Elliott is a Licensed CPA and passed the CPA Exam in 2008 while working full time with and having three little ones at home. He also missed more than one family reunion in the process.