Eyelids drooping, eyes watering from the constant yawns, the birds are not even awake singing their happy songs, but here I am up at four thirty in the morning cracking open my books to study. Why am I doing this? I just went to bed less than seven hours ago after a two hour study session. The reason I put myself through this ordeal is to get promoted. In the Air Force we take test to progress in our careers and get make the next rank or stripe.
This time I’m studying to make Master Sergeant, E-7. I usually start out 6 months before the test, this time it’s 8. Last year I missed being promoted by 4 points. I refuse to let that happen again. That is why I’m studying like my life depended on it. My testing date is only a couple of days away and I start to panic.
Did I cover all the material? What if I freeze up in the testing room? What if I’m late and they don’t let me test? I was starting to lose my mind. I had studied so much that the things I thought I knew started to confuse me. Facts started running together like a race in my mind, useless dates in Air Force history that meant absolutely nothing to me at this point in my exhaustion.” Why don’t you take a break, honey” my husband said to me as he found me staring into the computer screen. “It’s still early come back to bed.” I stared at him like he was the devil. Thanks for reminding me, I thought to myself. Only a couple more hours and I’d have to get Lexus out of bed, fix lunches for the day, and get myself together.
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“Not yet”, I told him. “Just let me go over this last section and then I’ll be done.”Yeah right”, he said as he left the room. Sleep was something I was not interested in these days. As if I did not have enough to worry about. After I got this test behind me I would be fine. I could get back to being normal and doing some of the things that I had not been able to do.
I wanted to get back outside to play with my daughter; the playground was calling my name. I wanted to go to bed at a decent hour. I wanted to not have to look at another military book for a very long time. I had visions of myself burning all the books I had to study for this test. Yeah that what I’ll do once this is over I thought. I’ll build a big bonfire in the backyard after February.
That would have to wait for now, its time to get back to the books. I finally finished my last marathon of studying. Now it was time to get ready for work. I went to work that day just a little stressed. I was scheduled to test in 2 days and I could not keep my mind on things. My boss suggested that I take the rest of the day off.
This was a good move. I would have lost my head if I heard someone else ask me “How you feel, are you going to make it this year?” In the Air Force it’s tradition that a person testing for promotion will get the day prior to the test off. This year I had a day and a half. I went home that day and did not even look at my books. I thought if I don’t know it know I won’t know it. The next day was good, I decided not to study again and spend some quality time with my daughter.
That day I knew why I was pushing myself so hard. I wanted my family to be proud of my accomplishments and me. That night I drifted off to dreamland. I dreamt that I was doing the test, and I wasn’t worried at all. I was calm. The test proctor gave me the test, and when I turned it over, there was all this stuff I had never seen before.
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It was like I had studied the wrong information. I began to panic, and the test proctor just stood there laughing at me, pointing at me and yelling, “you ” ll never get promoted now.” To say that I was stressed out would be an understatement. I was beyond stressed; I was scared as hell. I woke up the next morning and I felt like I had boxed ten rounds with Mike Tyson.
I was exhausted. I took a shower, made breakfast, and watched the news. My test was not until 8 o’clock and I had a little time. I was tempted to pick up those books one last time, but I chose not too.
I was so nervous, you would have thought I had just got caught stealing from the local five and dime store. As I drove to the base I talked myself down. I had to tell myself you know this information, you ” ve studied it for almost a year. What was I worried about? By the time I got the testing room, and everyone was ready to begin, I was pretty calm. I had decided at this point that since I would just answer every question on the test.
Guessing was better than not answering the question at all. It was time. The test proctor began going over the directions and calls us up one by one. As we all received our booklets we were instructed not to open them until we were told to do so. “Open your books” the test proctor stated. Here it is now or never.
I slowly opened up the book to the first page. To my surprise I knew the answer to the first question. This was weird, many of the questions on my test looked oddly familiar to me. It seemed as though I had seen some of this information before. I began to fill in the bubble on the answer sheet, not stopping until I had answered all 100 questions. I felt pretty good, but there was still one more test to go.
We took an hour break. After the hour break it was time to start part 2 of my saga. The second part of the testing. This time the nerves rolled back in. Anxiety set in once more.
Once again I had to say to myself, “V you know this information like the back of your hand. Let’s do this and get it over with.” Again there I was again, attempting to answer more questions, this time I did not know what the heck they were trying to ask me. Questions 2, 3, and 4 all passed me by like a bus driving pass it’s designated bus stop. I stared to get worried. Questions 5 hey I know this. It was starting to look up.
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I finished the second test a lot better than I thought I would after reading those first five questions. I turned in my test to the test proctor and said goodbye. I walked out of that room feeling good. It was over.
Now the hard part, waiting. In the military or at least the Air Force you test for your promotion and then 4 months later you find out the results. The reason behind the long wait is that there can be anywhere from 9, 000 to 11, 000 people testing for a certain promotion or stripe. In my case for Master sergeant there were 11, 000 other people in the Air Force testing for the same stripe. The Air Force only promotes an average of 35% of those who test.
It’s the end of June now. Results of the test are to be released today, 27 June. I am one of those lucky ones to be promoted. I had heard some rumors that my name was on “the list.” Although I was hoping it was true, I was a little upset about what to do if it was on “the list.” I study all the time and if I was on this list then what do I do with my time? 26 June comes around and the commander wants to see me the day before results come out.
This could be a good thing or this could be a bad thing. I go to the office and he sits me down. He starts to go into his speech about what his policy is on promotions and the way he likes to do it. I’m thinking to myself get on with this before I get sick all over this nice, big, cherry wood desk. “Sergeant Ivy”, he says with a straight look on his face, “you have been promoted to Master Sergeant.”Are you sure”, is all I can say. It was true and right then he handed be an Italian bottle of wine with my new stripes glued on to it.
I thought I would cry right there in the commander’s office. I had this huge grin on my face unable to hold back the tears. I had done it. It was over.
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I walked out of the commander’s office and there was all my co-workers, all seventeen of them clapping and cheering. I felt good. Now I can spend some much-needed time with my family. Without them I would not have been able to make it. They allowed me to be locked away for hours at a time in my study room. They were very supportive and this stripe is for them..