An Open Letter to all of my Friends and Family while I take the CPA Exam

Dear Friends and Family,

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!

Sincerely,

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.

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17 comments

Nisha 10 years ago

Aw, this actually has me in tears. I sent this to my family. This exam is a beast!

Rachel 10 years ago

LOVE IT!! My thoughts exactly!

Janelle 10 years ago

This is perfect! I have some friends who think I'm being rude because I have to tell them no or I have to reschedule something. My family sort of gets it because my brother just passed all four parts (YEAH!).

Monark 10 years ago

Awesome !!!! so ture....i've been out of touch with my friends and family since i started studying for CPA in August. I hope this pays me back !! :(

Aneta 10 years ago

Feels as if I wrote it!!!! Just took FAR today and most likely failed it again!!!!

Charity Shamba 10 years ago

Oh, that is exactly how i feel thanks for posting this. I am gonna send it to my family and friends.

Ali Lohnes 10 years ago

What an awesome way for everyone to understand what we are feeling - too bad this wasn't out there when I started 2.5 years ago - my now 17 year old daughter would completely understand my meltdowns the week before the exam. Thanks for putting this into words!!!

lauren 10 years ago

Great letter! Under the boyfriend part you should add: If you stick with me and support me through this, then if I didn't know it before: you are definitely the one! haha

Errol 10 years ago

This 'letter' is on point! Explained my whole situation and reasoning.

Gladys M. 10 years ago

This letter explained exactly how I feel. I want to thank all of you that are currently supporting me, my parents and family members, my boyfriend and my boss for giving the time to study.

RayRay 10 years ago

Nisha- I really understand what your going through and I can totally relate. I feel this way through the toughest times in my life when striving for my goals. So, your not alone. I really appreciate the time you took to email me this message....this is key to communication. Keep your head up... Your friend RayRay

RayRay 10 years ago

Nisha- Your doing a fantastic job!!! ;) RayRay

Jessica 10 years ago

This is great! It has universal appeal :)

Amy Emshoff (Taylor's mom) 10 years ago

Taylor, I do know what you are going thru, even though it was 26 years ago and the test was easier then (well maybe?). Anyway, just want you to know you are officially excused from any family reunions until you pass. And when you pass all the sections, I will host a celebration for you and all your friends you have neglected over the last few months. We'll have it at John E's in Exeter. Just save the first toast for your mom. You are just a debit or credit away - no worries. I have total confidence in you. Love, Mom ps. Uncle Ted is not invited - although all other uncles are!

Adria 7 years ago

I love these letters! It is so hard to describe to my friends what is going on with my life. Luckily my boyfriend and I are both sitting for the CPA exam so I have a study partner and someone to hold my hands through the tough parts!

Barbara Bowie 7 years ago

Wow these are so PERFECT! I'm seriously going to copy/paste/customize the husband one as well as the friends and family one for my MBA Capstone class (it's crazy intense) and my CPA (which I have to completely restart as soon as I finish Capstone since I lost my FAR & REG conditional credit when I got sick for a year :'-( *crying*). Thanks for everything you post!

Bradk 6 years ago

I sat for the first time in July 2015. Passed audit first try. One piece of advice study don't make it your life . Have fun along the way . Keep things in perspective and you will achieve your goals .