Saturday, August 31, 2013

Another meaningless journey

Should we really believe when someone says "everything happens for a reason" Really? I mean, seriously??

Yes, I'm talking about "Actuary journey", one more bad decision of my life - there goes six months. It sucks to be me.

Well, the lessons I learned:

  •          think thru before you invest your time and energy, is it worth? 
  •          "Hardwork" is not equivalent to smartness. They say, "when you don't have brains, hard work covers it up." Take from me - it doesn't work that way.
  •          Don't believe in inspirational proverbs like " Don't give up. When you' re thinking to give up, that's when you' re close to the shore.", everything seems impossible, until you do it. So go for it."...blah, blah

There were lot of signs which declared that I may turn up as a winner, but hell, no.

This Actuary journey started when I was browsing for "part-time jobs" or jobs which doesn't require experience - United Health Care's ad about how they will give opportunity to an inexperienced person, all they have to do is pass Actuary P1 exam". Then I did research on Actuaries. Everywhere I read, they talked about how hard it is, but I thought, I will manage, all I need to do is work hard. Salaries for actuary jobs were excellent, will have a great future, once I work hard for the first exam.

OMG! Never in my life, I thought this will be this hard. First few months, when I was going through Finan's free book, I did not understand lot of stuff as I had fifteen years of break from studies. Whatever the hell reason, even though I was failing in understanding the concepts and finding it hard, I never gave up. I really felt good about overcoming the challenge by doing lot of research on Google  on minute topics, and somehow solving the problems which was given at the end of each topic.

Then, later on I joined a study group - felt good about being part of something, collectively going through hardship. Thanks to inter-library loan system, I was able to get needed books to pass, but only for limited time. I thought this was a good sign - God is showing me all the ways to be successful. In this way, I will overcome the grief I was going through of losing Steward, and will use my brain and time for something good.

Due to short time imposed by Library, I concentrated only on SOA mentioned problems. Understanding the problem, and at the same time, the theory behind it.

Meanwhile, even though my husband knows how hard it is to pass, and how I had a long break from studies, he started pressurizing me to take the exam in March itself. I said, "it is quite impossible. I will try to do in May."  Up to April, I really did not understand the difficulty of passing - many in online forums talked about low passing percentage rate, and how few will pass on their first attempt. One more worst thing about SOA is, how they force us to commit 50 days prior to the exam. I was not ready to make that decision, so I postponed to July. At that time, I thought, I can't study beyond July, that's it. Even though, I know studying during kids being at home on summer break, will be too hard to concentrate, with their work, cooking, in-between their fights, daughter's birthday, husband's whining, I thought it will be a challenge. All along I thought, God is my side, forcing me to do something unbelievable, and make me become something FINALLY - a great career, someone who will finally find her identity in this identity-defined-by-career world.

Unbelievably, everything fell in its place, especially kids were totally occupied with planned schedule. The idea came from my son about scheduling the day - so along with my kids, I wrote the planning of what need to be done at what time, just like the way school works. Even the lunch timings were planned, and recess after lunch, but with a condition - if they eat quickly, then as a reward, they will have more time for recess, in that way, magically, no feeding work or me, kids ate on time, learned every subject, everything went as smooth as a perfect dream. Of course, I thought the things the way were falling perfectly in its place was a perfect sign from God for putting me through this adventure, carefully orchestrating for me, this career oriented journey. Thank you so much - I uttered silently to God numerous times. Every parent knows, how challenging it is to keep kids occupied, and not hear the dreadful word "boring" or the non- stop fights, running around the house like uncontrollable wild kids, goofing around and not achieving anything useful, other than becoming wild, undisciplined-underachiever.

Even though, my kids problem solved, my husband started whining about everything, instead of being helpful. In between, he became jealous of " ME" becoming something. I really did not understand that part - why will somebody be jealous of me? He doesn't know, how I wasted my time and health on non-trivial things, almost killed myself or went in depression from 2008 for "not so proud" moments. Now, finally, I'm doing something useful with me. He already started talking about how well I'll learn - no wonder I've the money line of my palm(astrology) - representing my wealth." But in all these trash talking, he forgot that I need to pass, and to pass I need to study, and not just study, but study like crazy, and the "crazy study" is not for one exam, but TEN - to really EARN WELL. He made sure to disturb me every possible way - keeping music loud, asking for tea, lunch, dinner - everything to be provided on time, oh yes - walks, suddenly he felt the urge of walking everyday, whining about him having no life, no get-togethers, no watching movies.....on and on.

One day, on forum, I asked a guy about something related to " homogeneous function", might be a silly or basic question, but he replied to me, saying that I DON'T THINK SO YOU CAN PASS, YOU ARE NOT READY TO PASS THE EXAM." Yes, tears filled my eyes, I cried and cried for my dumb decision - at that point of time, I was really working hard. Whenever I do the SOA 153 sample problems, I really felt good about my prospects, but the problem is SOA won't make it easy. This guy's email made me to consider my final option to pass is to subscribe to "CoachingActuaries.com".

In my life, I never worked that much. From early morning to some days up to night 2 or 3, I studied. According to the website, I have to reach level 8, which will definitely put me in 96 percentile of passing the exam. I took one month subscription. With lot of disappointment days, crying days, sleepless days - to my astonishment, I reached the required level - I concurred the ultimate thing. I achieved what was expected from me from that website to pass. Will I pass? Will the website's statement come true? Only time will tell, that's what I thought - God knows it well. Now, no one can say, I did not work hard. I have record to prove - not only to others, but to myself, that I really, really worked hard. This is the same person, who in January did not know recognize SIGMA symbol and many other math symbols, but slowly, slowly learned everything, finally reached up to 9+ level . Every exam I took on ADAPT was almost like hell - the tension, the panic attack before each and every exam because you don't know what kind of problems you face. I want my level to go up, as I had limited time. It was HELL, HELL....that's the right word for the ordeal I went through.

My Progress/ My Hard-work




In the midst of this craziness, my husband planned for Europe trip, right two days after my exam. EUROPE Guys! I have to look good, who knows if I meet my missed connection - I have to pack, plan out what I'll be wearing each and everyday, not just for me, even for my kids. I was not happy with the way I was losing weight, how my eyes were so hollow and how nerves below my right eye was twitching. I did quick research on Google - it happens if you're nervous, if you're having less sleep or it maybe due to watching the screen too much. Well, I know that I am not going to look fabulous for my beloved Europe trip. During those tough days, I felt so bad for not enjoying the days when I had nothing to do - watch TV or go for a walk, anything other than being guilty of wasting away life by not having career.  One day, when I saw a woman watching TV leisurely while I was walking as per my everyday schedule - I thought to myself, I could have been her - just relaxing and enjoying TV, but look at me - the hell I put myself into. Even in my sleep, I used to solve problems.

Eight days before the exam, the subscription expired. According to few people who passed, confirmed that if we are good at 153 sample problems, we will definitely pass. So I solved 153 problems thrice, went through them multiple times. On DDay, I thought to myself - either way I'll be liberated from this hell.  I don't care whatever happens, will happen, so be it. The exam was scheduled for evening. The whole morning, I cried, too many times, the knots in my stomach with tension/apprehension/inner confirmation that I'll not do good as only smart people will pass this, and I don't think so I'm smart enough to pull this off, has worn me off. I couldn't wait for this hell to stop.

The problem with me was I did not have confidence, even though I reached 9 level in ADAPT/CoachingActuaries because when I encounter unfamiliar problems, my brain just doesn't know how to solve, but when I go through something I encountered, I'll be right on, but new ones I was not able to, and in ADAPT/coachingActuaries, once you keep on taking exams, the familiar problems will keep on repeating, and will give you safe haven. And of course, that's not what will happen in the exam., who will give the same format, same kind of question, and that too SOA is popular for making it tougher. Even their multiple choices are not easy way around, purposefully selected to confuse examiners. And it is time based, and on top of that they have pilot questions, which doesn't carry any points, but just to fool you and without knowing whether it is pilot or not - in the spirit of solving, you waste your precious time on time-consuming problem - mind you, which doesn't carry points.

During the exam, I did not panic, I made up my mind that whatever happens, let it happen, at least I'll be out of this hell/self-harassment. As planned and advised, I moved on to new problems whenever I faced something which I couldn't solve or needs time. Finally, I went through all thirty problems, found myself of almost fifteen unsolved problems. I had one and half hour left. Already chances of passing looked bleak. I did not care because I was ready for failure from the beginning. Out of fifteen, some I solved, some I guessed. I still had two minutes. I exited the exam without seeing the screen as I did not want to see the end result. I went out to report to the supervisor, that I'm done. He said, "no you haven't, you need to take the survey." I requested to him that I cannot do the survey as I don't want to see the result. But he made me go through the process. Once I finished the survey, I was scared of where it will show the result, so the rest of the time, I covered the screen with the booklet and allowed myself to see the below buttons to move forward. The supervisor might have thought - oh, what a freaky person. But at that time, I did not care. At the end, SOA had its own survey - I mentioned about how the exam was hard, how nothing was related to SOA sample 153 problems, how I worked hard, and still found myself with torture. Somehow, I got out of there without knowing the result. The supervisor gave me some confidential paper which might have had my result on it. I did not see or allowed my husband to see. I tore it up and threw in front of a Chinese restaurant. With tearful eyes, I told to my husband that I have no regrets, I gave it all, and at the end, as expected was not enough.

Few on the forum who were recent graduates passed easily. One even commented that not quantity, but quality is important. And one passed without buying expensive ADAPT, but just the basic Broverman's study manual. And one passed using ADAPT guaranteed pass feature. And many who like me, did not declare to the forum world, might have failed. Do you know the cost of the exam is $200, and the required calculator is $50, Subscription for ADAPT course: $70.

I really don't know why God made me go through this journey, when from the starting he should have known that I was not qualified or meant to be an Actuary. I expected to see some kind of email from SOA after my fifteen day Europe trip, but nothing I found. Through their website, I came to know that they will post results on their website after eight weeks. Well, should I bother to check, or why the hell should I check, when I know what I did? Instead of making myself feel better, to get back my lost confidence, self-esteem, I made myself to feel WORST/USELESS. If I've passed, it would have proclaimed that he still thinks about me. Well, that is also not there. Chapter closed!!

For some everything comes easy, and some will be in right place at right time, and some work hard, but the end result will be nothing, and they struggle and struggle but nothing good comes. It is all fate. But I can bet, this journey was much better/meaningful than the past struggle I went through from 2008 for totally nothing/useless-stuff/nothing-to-be-proud-of.