by Emily Jack On February 13th, I had the opportunity to retake the wildland firefighter pack test - the one I originally failed as discussed in my second Great Story, "My Worst Nightmare." I can't say I was looking forward to it; it's a very physically painful experience for me as I have little upper body strength and sinus issues, and I was terrified that the entire ERT would show up and watch me fail again. As it turned out, my fears were ungrounded. Everyone respected my wishes and did not come and try to cheer me on. I also passed by a couple of minutes, more than making up for my pitiful 30 second failure the first time. I believe my final time was 43 minutes and some-odd seconds. Anyway, the leadership staff administering the test was wonderful. They told me how proud of me they were, that I did a fantastic job. While I appreciate their praise and am very happy I do not have to go through this ordeal yet again, I do not truly see this as any great victory. It was something that I previously messed up on and was required to fix - simple as that.
I know I'm supposed to go on about how I learned so much from this about perseverance, and never giving up, and insert Disney Channel schmaltzy life lesson here. But what I really learned is to seize second chances - they don't come around often in life and I was lucky that the ERT let me try again. Nothing I can say or do will ever make up for the fact that I didn't pass the first time. That pain will always be there. But I see it as a battle scar. In time it will fade, and in the end, I now know better how to emotionally handle my shortcomings. It won't be quite so traumatic for me next time. And I know there will be a next time because (as much as the perfectionist in me doesn't want to believe this) failure is unavoidable. At least I know how to pick myself up by my bootstraps and get on with my life. Whether I go back to try and rectify all of my wrongdoings, or decide it's not worth it and move on, I am now equipped with emotional knowledge to soften the blow. And THAT is something I feel I can be proud of.