Failure Is Part of Success

IMG_2308_R1Back in October, I took my NCLEX-RN examination and failed. I was devastated, ashamed and embarrassed. I cried and cried and cried that night. It didn’t matter what my supportive husband said to me to try and make me feel better, I couldn’t hear it. I did not want anyone to know I had failed. I thought others would think less of me. In hindsight, I know this is crazy, but I was feeling stupid and lacked self-confidence. I didn’t want others to see me this way too. Eventually, I told my immediate family and the “Golden Girls” (my three besties). After I told them, I decided I would allow myself one night to sulk and feel sorry for myself. That night I drank a lot of wine, sat on the couch, and cried some more. The next day I woke up early and figured out a plan to pass the test. I started researching NCLEX-RN test prep courses.  I found one that I had never heard of, the Hurst Review, and it received excellent reviews. I paid the 300 dollars and enrolled in the course.

I completed the Hurst Review It was a review of all nursing content, which was exactly what I needed since it had been nearly 10 years since I had some of the content because I did a LPN to BSN transition program. My program gave you a pass for some classes like pediatrics and labor and delivery. If you don’t use it, you lose it and I had lost some of that knowledge over the past 10 years.  I studied every single day for a minimum of two hours. I would wake up at 5 am and study before work and then study at night and on the weekends. I was determined to pass this test. I did exactly that, on January 25th I passed my California NCLEX-RN examination. Next to marrying my best friend, it was the second best day of my life. All self-doubt, feelings of less than, and stress were immediately lifted. Well, not immediately, I checked the website six times to make sure. I was in shock that it was over, but it was truly over. My world has completely changed forever, but in a good way.

Some might wonder how this story relates to health. First, during this period of high stress, I made sure to eat in a way that would support my brain health. I ate whole, real foods with protein, fat and carbohydrates. Second, as easy as it would have been for me to cut out my workouts and yoga due to lack of time, I made the time. Some days, my workouts were short, but I still got them in and it helped to reduce my stress and kept me focused. Every time I did yoga, I set an intention of “I am creating a mindset to pass my RN-NCLEX.” During my sun salutations, every time my hands came back to heart center, I repeated to myself “I believe in me.” Saying these words every time were extremely powerful and after awhile I started believing them. Also, I chose this photo of me in Warrior II because when I am in this pose, I allow my back hand to represent my past and front hand my future. I look past my fingers and see my future. It is one of my favorite poses for this reason. Third, I meditated several times a week in the morning. This helped to clear my mind, bring stillness to all my thoughts and reduce my anxiety.  Somedays, I only meditated for five minutes, but it would set the tone for the rest of my day.  On the day of the exam, I got up early to allow time for a guided meditation. I listened to “Exam Nerves Hypnosis Script that Helps to Alleviate Anxiety and Stress” that I had read and recorded on my iPhone. You can find the script here, . I find relief from anxiety through meditation and the use of affirmations. I use affirmations on a daily basis because I believe your thoughts create your reality. If you believe you can do something and put in the work, then you can do it. However, if you believe you can’t, then you can’t. During the exam, my affirmation was “I am confident I can pass this test, as I have studied and am prepared. I believe in me.”  I took a deep breaths and said this affirmation several time during the exam. I felt relief, confident and calm every time. It is amazing how stress can affect the body and how important it is to take care of oneself during periods of prolonged or high stress. It is not selfish, but a necessity. By taking care of myself like I did, I was able to stay healthy, mentally and physically.

Sharing this story made me very vulnerable. No one likes to share their failure with others, including me. For example, on Facebook people usually only post pictures that make their lives look wonderful, but what we don’t see are the tears, feelings and struggles behind some of those photos.  I think it is important to see the other side too. We all have struggles and challenges in our lives. It is what makes life interesting, but what makes us resilient is how we handle the challenges.  It is easy to give up, but it is more rewarding to pick ourselves back up and try again.  I am thankful for my failure because it allowed me the time to go back and review all the material I needed to make me the best nurse I can be.  Failure is just a part of success, as long as we never give up.