On April 12, my social media feeds were teeming with news items, congratulatory notes, and status messages about the 2020/2021 Philippine Bar Examinations. The country registered a record-high passing rate of 72.28 percent. Because of the pandemic, two batches of law graduates (2020 and 2021) took the digital examinations last February.
A total of 8,241 examinees out of 11,402 test-takers passed what is tagged as the “Biggest Bar Ever,” with a total of 761 on the exemplary list (with grades from 85 to 90 percent) and 14 on the excellent list (above 90 percent).
I found satisfaction in seeing tears of joy being shed by Bar passers, their families, and friends. I could only imagine the stories behind their struggles as relief and happiness were painted on their faces. Yes, emotions radiated through masks as lives were about to shift.
Aside from the examinations going digital, the spread of stories also found a new platform in social media. Back in the day, I remember hearing stories of Bar passers on the radio and watching them on TV (The topnotcher was sure to get airtime on primetime news!). At this point, successful test-takers took to social media their documented reactions.
On the popular short-form video streaming app TikTok, some passers and their loved ones shared recorded moments of finding out the much-awaited results. Some even shared snippets of their journey, giving a glimpse of what their life was like during review and after taking the exams.
Among those with reactions that went viral were a cancer survivor who dedicated the major milestone to her late mother and a senior citizen whose wife and children jumped and cried for joy upon hearing the news. Both retakers of the Bar, the two passers observably shared something in common with other successful law graduates – grit.
American psychologist, professor, and author Angela Lee-Duckworth highlighted this in her bestselling book titled Grit.
Grit is presented as the sustained application of effort towards a long-term goal. According to Duckworth’s TED Talk on Youtube, the character trait emerged as a significant predictor of success. She detailed how grit, according to her study, toppled over social intelligence, good looks, physical health, and IQ or intelligence quotient.
In a 2013 video, Duckworth explained before a crowd, “Grit is passion and perseverance for very long-term goals. Grit is having stamina. Grit is sticking with your future, day in, day out, not just for a week, but for years. And working really hard to make that future a reality.”
Grit is personified by Bar passers who have gone through tough law school admissions, sleepless nights, grueling review sessions, and even anxiety-filled waiting before the examination results came out.
“Second take! [I’m a] Proud second taker!,” said the lady who shared how she battled cancer during her first attempt at taking the Bar. Her fresh perspective on making it on her second try is a reminder of how we should normalize rising above failures, taking pride in not giving up, and raising the bar when it comes to our goals.
The road to success is often blocked by self-doubt and rejections along the way and the Bar reminds us of what we need to power through those. Grit in the form of having a growth mindset tells us that failure in case we do not make it the first time is not supposed to be a condemnation of how brilliant or capable we are. Rejection, as many would say, is only a redirection. We just need to muster enough energy and the right amount of time to take whatever lessons we have to learn and tread a new path.
Duckworth’s reminder was so succinct, “Grit is living life like it’s a marathon, not a sprint.”
Congratulations to our new batch of lawyers! For your random thoughts, e-mail the author at [email protected].