8 Lessons I Learned From Preparing for My CSW Exam


You may or may not have noticed that I have been a little sparse around here lately. I struggle as it is to keep up with life and all the amazingness that’s packed into it, but there has been an extra layer acting as a barrier between me and appropriate time management/getting everything done. Over the last several weeks, I have been preparing to take an important board exam.

Many of you may know that I have a Master’s degree in social work. When I moved to Kentucky I learned that in order to have any type of decent job in this area as an MSW, you must have your license and be credentialed. That means…Test Time! I graduated with my Master’s in 2011 and have been off work since November 2013 after having my youngest son. Since then, there have been many life events occurring, as you know if you read my blog much. Needless to say, I was far from prepared for this exam!

I eventually worked up the nerve to at least register for it and set a date. I figured there’d be a much higher chance of forcing myself to study and prepare if I had an end date to work toward. I scheduled it, giving myself about 3 weeks to prepare. As the date inched closer, I realized I had done as close to nothing as it gets without actually doing nothing. I was panicking, knowing that I literally could not afford to fail the test as it is expensive and time consuming. So rather than plow through stubbornly and pridefully, I rescheduled it. I gave myself an extra 2 weeks and dedicated as much time as I could to studying.

Now, I’d love to pretend like I literally dedicated all free minutes to studying, but I didn’t. I’m a procrastinator by nature and tend to work well under pressure. And I’m a mom of 3 boys! Trying to study with 3 little guys to take care of is like trying to stay dry in a monsoon. I did study on the rare days I got all 3 boys to nap for longer than 5 minutes, and I forfeited blog posts for study time between the hours of midnight and 2 am many nights. But the bulk of my preparation happened 2 nights before the test using practice tests from Social Work Test Prep! I’ll spare you all the boring details, but here’s the point… I PASSED and now I am officially a CSW!!! Whoop whoop!!!

I realized there were many lessons to be learned through this experience of balancing studying, raising 3 boys, wading through the mirky waters of a divorce, and just generally coping with life. Here’s some of what I came up with.

Do what you can, when you can.

We simply cannot accomplish everything we need to all the time. There are not enough hours in a day, and for some reason, God only gave us 2 arms. We can only do what we can, when we can, and we have to learn to let that be enough.

Release the idea of perfection.

I am a perfectionist and I tend to be very hard on myself in general. I have always strived for perfection in everything I do. Becoming a mom, strangely enough, has released me from the bondage of perfectionism. It is still present at times, but the roar is much quieter than it used to be. With this test, and with everything else in life, I realized I cannot be perfect. I don’t need to be perfect. I just need to pass! Sometimes, good enough is good enough!

Believe in yourself.

While preparing for the exam, I took several practice tests. In the beginning, I was not doing well on them. I kept getting frustrated and saying, “I’m screwed. There’s no way I’m going to pass this test. I have mommy brain and there’s just no way! Maybe I’m not even supposed to be a social worker. Etc, Etc, Etc.” STOP THAT! When I started changing the self talk into, “I CAN do this. I do have a brain. I am smart. I am prepared. I’ve got this!” I did much better. I felt calmer, I started to do better, and the tension faded. No matter what you are doing in life, believe in yourself. You are capable, you are smart, you are where you’re supposed to be, and you’ve got this!

“The man who thinks he can and the man who thinks he can’t are both right. Which one are you?” Henry Ford

Do your best, and know that’s good enough.

As I mentioned, I tend to want to be perfect. I have come to realize that perfect just means doing our best. If you do your best, that’s all there is. That’s all there needs to be. Whatever the outcome, if you do your best, you can rest knowing you did enough. If it wasn’t as good as you hoped, try again tomorrow.

“I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.” ― Edward Everett Hale


Many times in life I spin myself into a frenzy like a washing machine on high speed. I worry, stress and turn little mole hills into big scary mountains. I let negative self talk and self doubt bring me down and I can knock myself out before I even start if I allow myself. That is a fast train to nowhere. If I’ve learned anything in life, especially since becoming a mom, it’s to relax. Life doesn’t have to be so extremely stressful all the time. Breathe, relax and enjoy the ride.


Self explanatory. There is never a time that prayer will not be useful and helpful, in all things.

“Pray continually.” 1 Thessalonians 5:17

Get in there and Git R’ Done!!!

There comes a time where all you can do is just do it! Whatever the thing is, you just have to do it. You can prepare, you can study, you can do all the things you need to do before the time comes; but eventually, the time will come and all that’s left is to get it done. Find your confidence, slap on some lipstick, put a little pep in your step, go in there, and git r’ done!

“Do it badly; do it slowly; do it fearfully; do it any way you have to, but do it.” ― Steve Chandler

Celebrate your accomplishments.

After all that, celebrate what you’ve accomplished. Whether it’s a regular old day of motherhood you successfully completed, a board exam you passed, a day in the office, a swift diaper change,.. I don’t care what the thing is. Celebrate your accomplishments in all things. I think we tend to discount ourselves and discredit how great we are and all we accomplish on a daily basis. I celebrate everything my sons do. Why not also celebrate a few things of my own along the way? We work hard. We deserve to celebrate that every now and then! As Oprah says, “The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.”

I am so relieved to have that test behind me and to hopefully find the right job that allows me to continue life as usual for my sons, slip away in the night to work, and come home before they ever know I was gone! If you’re the praying type, I’d appreciate prayers that I find that job! 🙂

Thank you all for your support and love! Carry on beautiful people!
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