I was pretty antsy the day before Step 1. A fellow classmate and I went out for dinner and a movie to distract our minds that evening. Then I went on a run because it was still early and sitting around at home didn’t sound so appealing. After a nice long shower, I fell asleep pretty soundly only to be woken up multiple times during the night. At one point, I had move to the living room couch because the AC from my neighbors upstairs was dripping on my window sill, drip…drip…drip…Despite the poor sleep, I felt pretty good in the morning. After a short train and a taxi ride, a few of my classmates and I were at the testing center imprinting our fingerprints and having an awkward profile shot taken. Then, 8 hours passed.
First Aid says that up to 85% of women experience postpartum “blues,” which is characterized by depressed affect, tearfulness, and fatigue after delivery that resolves within 2 weeks. I’m aware pregnancy and Step 1 isn’t exactly comparable. However, I’ve been told that those feelings are common for those walking out of the Prometric testing center. It is an odd feeling leaving your seat, which you have been warming for the last 8 hours, for the last time. I was exhausted and almost tearing for joy of having it behind me. I shot my arms up in the air as if I had won some competition (my affect was still intact). I had just spent my entire summer in the library staring at my computer screen/First Aid/other study materials. Somehow the 7 weeks flew by and I sat through the 8 hours that I had been preparing for all summer. I felt accomplished.
The four of us who had taken the exam that day went out in the city for dinner and drinks. I really wanted to go to the beach so I dragged my friends along to the shore to dip our feet in the Mediterranean Sea. Watching the waves crash down and feeling the sea rush by my feet, dragging the sand from beneath them, was very liberating.
Everyone has their own way of dealing with stress and the relief of that stress. There are students who walk out feeling down and worrying about all the questions that they had guessed. Some feel the need to review the questions they weren’t so sure about during the exam. Others go on forums looking for support from fellow victims of Step 1. A few are simply ambivalent and refuse to talk about it. Whatever the coping mechanism is, I think it’s important to step back and appreciate the fact that we just hurdled the giant obstacle called Step 1.