A Support System + Gratitude to Survive the CPA Exam
Alex is a NINJA CPA blogger.
First of all congratulations to everyone that found out they passed a section of the CPA Exam and also a keep your chin up for those who found out they didn’t. This exam is a marathon not a sprint and none of us is defined by 1 test result good or bad.
I promised myself when I started this journey that I was going to be honest with myself and others, so here I am with all my excuses for why I haven’t studied. I do want to talk about something a little more serious that doesn’t affect everyone or maybe even most people but if there’s just one other person who does maybe it’ll help them.
Does the CPA cause depression? No, but that didn’t stop me from googling CPA and depression and finding approximately 1.8 million results. I know people say you have to put your life on hold for the CPA but your mental health doesn’t follow exam plans. I find that any underlying issues you have can only be worsened under stress and if the CPA is nothing else, it is stress.
And somedays even without the CPA you can have really bad days, so how do you manage those? See the past few weeks I have had some of those dark days, the ones that make getting out of bed hard, going to work challenging, and make studying impossible. I failed at keeping up with my plan and the failing made me feel even worse but I learned a few things that I want to share to help you not only as you study but after too.
Ms. Oprah Winfrey, who doesn’t know her? She’s a billionaire, philanthropist, and overall incredible woman and she has my favorite quote on my darkest days. “Hold onto your belief in God and even more importantly God’s belief in you.” Now if you’re not a believer in God I get it, don’t leave me now. You can replace God with a higher power or the universe or whatever it is bigger than you.
I love this quote from Oprah because it speaks not only of our belief in a higher power but more importantly that higher powers belief in us. It can be hard to maintain faith in a higher power when life goes wrong, a death, a job loss, unexpected illness. But to me it can be even more challenging to keep faith in ourselves when we've not done our best, whether that’s an exam or some other life choice.
However it is important to believe that we are in this moment, this experience not by accident but for a purpose greater than ourselves. There are some things you’ve just got to believe in like cash being debit and payables being a credit. So if you can’t believe in you, which can be hard sometimes trust me, hold on to the fact that God or the universe does.
The next thing to help with depression is a strong support system. There are few things in this world that cannot be cured with some prayer and a phone call to my best friends literally nothing. The CPA can be an isolating experience which can be a catalyst for some people to sink into themselves and into the sadness. And I know everyone has that friend, relative, etc that they can spend all day with on the phone, try to minimize that as much as you can because we don’t have all day, lol.
But I do encourage those who are feeling down to make a scheduled time to reach out to those they care about. Now if those loved ones are in your household, take a break and just be with them and talk about something other than Financial Statements. I promise this brief catch up won’t totally destroy your exam plan.
It’s funny my exam planner actually has a day that says call your best friend they probably miss you. I’m like more plans should do that, should remind you that human connection does still matter, even in the midst of the CPA.
I’m also so thankful I found the Another71 community, a place I could not only express my own experiences but also read about others to know that I wasn't alone in this journey. With the exception of one of my friends who just passed all 4 sections I don’t know anyone else still studying, being in corporate will do that to you.
So it’s nice to see what other people are doing and sacrificing for this exam because as me and my now CPA friend would say people understand but they don’t get it, so sometimes it’s nice to see things from people who get it.
As you go about your week this week in addition to your studies, work, school, family, and other countless obligations I encourage you write down 3 things you're grateful for. Here, I'll even start you out.
1. Waking up this morning.
2. Being qualified to study for the CPA Exam.
3. The fact that each new day is a fresh start.
Sometimes we can get so bogged down with life that we’re not able to see anything good but a small daily reminder that life though challenging is still worth it can be life changing. Whether you’re facing a dark day today, tomorrow, or several tomorrows down the road remember to have faith, reach out to your support system, and be grateful because everyday even the dark ones are a gift.