Next month, I will be taking the N2 level of the Japanese Language Placement Test (JLPT). My renewed interest in Japanese prompted me to sign up a couple months ago. I certainly understand more now than I did during my disastrous attempt 2.5 years ago, during which I was woefully unprepared. Still, I don’t feel certain that I will pass the exam this time either. It’s not an issue of insecurity that makes me say this. This semester I have returned to work fully in person for the first time in 3 years, and it wasn’t the simple readjustment I assumed it would be. There’s also a lot to manage in terms of classes, committee work, administrative duties, and making sure not to neglect the activities and practices that nourish me. I have not spent as much time as I would have liked–nowhere near the amount of time I’ve read is required–preparing for the JLPT. It seems settled that I will walk into an exam I know I will not pass. I have not even sat down for the exam and I already feel like a failure.
I could just skip the exam.
What a waste of 5,000 yen (around $50 USD) though. More than that, there’s no way I would be able to enjoy that Sunday in peace, knowing that I should be facing what I signed up for.
There’s a few weeks left and I’ve intentionally blocked out pockets of time to study for the JLPT (along with just increasing my overall Japanese comprehension). Passing is possible and of course I certainly hope for that. But perhaps the preparation will prove to be insufficient and I won’t pass. If the latter happens, does that mean it was a waste of time and money? Winning is great, but there’s greatness in losing too. Specifically losing after having done my best and then reassessing what to do better next time. That’s certainly better than giving up or running away.
What I’ve learned during the times I have managed to study can always be built upon and strengthened for another attempt. As for now, I will do what I can with the remaining time and do my best on exam day. My previous attempt was not good, but I still learned from that experience and am going again into the exam better informed. Regardless of the result this time around, I know I will gain insight I did not have before.
Winning is not guaranteed, so we will all face a loss at some point. However, there are lessons to be learned and insights to be gained when we do.