When you're IN the moment, it's tough to see past it

I’m sharing some of my story because when you see people who are qualified and ‘doing stuff’ that you want to get to, it’s really easy to feel that they didn’t struggle the way you did, that you’ll never get there, because your situation, intelligence, abilities or ‘whatever’ is just too challenging. Surely if you feel THIS hopeless, there’s no way this will come right!? 

It’s really tough to see past the current challenge. I want you to realise that you CAN get past this, that you do NOT know where you’ll go in life, and what you’re actually capable of. 

It’s always a little tough to share our struggles, because we all like to pretend that we’re all good and fine and it’s all been ok.

But, it’s very valuable to know that you’re not alone when you’re struggling. And struggling NOW, does NOT mean you will always struggle 😉

I share some of my journey with you, so that you can see that although a lot of those challenges are ‘behind’ me, there was a LOT of moments where I didn’t feel like I’d get past this.

Here's a picture story of some of my journey... going backwards


At each one of these points, I had NO idea what was coming next. I was struggling and anxious IN that moment. When you put it on a timeline after the fact, it seems ok, But at each point… realise that the next step was totally unknown. Just like where you are right now!

My home office

Oct 2022 - We've been in Montenegro for 3 years. It's gorgeous and peaceful. Workwise... 2023 will be a major change for me, focussing on shifting some stuff I do. I have NO idea whether it will work, or how long it will take or that it 'should' look like. I do the best I can, but trying to figure out how to pay bills with whatever's in your own head (instead of being a part of someone elses' company) is never not scary for me. It means that I'm thinking, strategising, researching, (doubting!), and considering whether what I'm doing is the right thing and what I should do next, how, when. Fun times!

Our lifestyle

July 2020 - We live in Montenegro. I work for myself, doing a 'bunch' of interesting stuff I love, working on building a business, working online, from home (or beach bars!) and LOVING what I do. YES, this is THE DREAM. And it's a reality! It's AWESOME

I'm happy... but...

June 2020 - This is me over the weekend, at the beach. BUT... what this doesn't show is that I've worked EVERY weekend for the last FIVE months. I work late most nights. Building your own business, finding work, facing your fears around trying to find work to pay bills when you don't have a salary... IS NOT EASY. It has challenged me, probably more than CTA did. (I'm NOT kidding!)

December 2019 felt hopeless

Building a business takes TIME. Generally at least 24 months to get something 'viable'. That's a LOT of months to wonder whether you'll be ok. Whether you're making the right decision. How you'll pay bills. Whether you should get a job. I nearly gave up. The photo certainly doesn't show that. But I was terrified that I'd done the wrong thing, and that it was hopeless.

The day we moved...

1 May 2019 - We moved to Montenegro on this day! Partly because we wanted a lifestyle change and follow our dream of living somewhere 'interesting'. We don't speak the language, there are no jobs here, and we're not 'loaded'. We moved knowing that we'd need to find work, build a business online, and make this work. It was SCARY. But exciting. BUT SCARY!

Breast Cancer

2018 - I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer in March 2018. This pic was taken 3 weeks after my double mastectomy. It was the day I found out I didn't need to do chemotherapy. I was VERY happy. This was a scary experience. And one of the reasons we wanted to change our lifestyle. There were a LOT of surgeries and hospital time in 2018, not great for business!

Building Tabaldi Online Education

2015 - We'd moved to Cape Town, and were spending time building the BCompt modules online for UNISA. It meant more time behind the camera, and starting to figure out how to market stuff. It was NOT easy. We had no idea if it would become a 'real' business! I lecture Auditing, which is WAY less popular than Financial Accounting, and I was terrified that my skills and focus was 'obsolete', that I'd chosen the 'wrong' subject to teach, which now massively limited my options in a new town with less contacts and opportunities than where I moved from. I was seriously frustrated and depressed and terrified for the future. (Spoiler: It still is! We don't own it, but still lecture for them! Yay!)

The beginning of Edge Business School

January 2014 - The start of Edge Business School. Very scary. Very cool. The anxiety around not getting students, and making sure that those you do get... pass! It's NOT easy! (I got married and moved to Cape Town in September 2014)

Celebrating my first 'entrepreneurial' project

2013 - This was my first year of not having a job. It was insanely scary. I got a great contract to create sim exams and feedback videos for the Auditor General. I was terrified because I HATED being in front of the camera. I had to do it, but I was so self-conscious. And so scared my stuff wouldn't be 'good enough'. (And yes, I'm not wearing shoes in this pic!)

Forbes Lever Baker - Lecturing CTA

2011 - This was my 5th year of lecturing, but the first year I lectured CTA. NOTHING prepares you for that. Studying CTA is hard. Standing in front of 200 people, knowing that it's your responsibility to help them pass... is a seriously scary thing. (And an awesome team of lecturers! You'll recognise Sara and Candice, they're now CA Campus! Michelle is in Oz!)

Yvonne Venter pass board

Passing Board 2

November 2009 - The moment I heard that I passed Board 2, first attempt. It took me TEN YEARS to get to this point. I can still feel the shock, relief, surrealism, and pure emotional, gut-wrenching feeling when I look at that photo. I worked so hard to get there, but I honestly never felt that I'd really ever make it. (Pay attention to that feeling of mine... many of you share it. One day, you'll take a photo like this as well.)

Passing my PostGrad degree

December 2006 - You can see from the pic that I was completely overwhelmed. I wasn't even relieved. It was such an incredibly gut-wrenching moment. I was terrified they'd made a mistake with my marks. Stunned that I'd passed. It was a crazy moment. I really struggled with CTA (my postgrad). Working and studying was very tough, I'd failed a whole bunch of tests. I nearly de-registered halfway through the year. I was convinced that I'd fail.

Some other challenges

Some other challenges that ‘got in my way’:

  • I have epilepsy. This means that I need to be very careful about sleep and anxiety, as these are major triggers for me. Seizures also impact my memory… which of course, is GREAT when you’re studying! There were a LOT of seizures through all this
  • I looked after my mom. My mom was unwell for most of this journey. I needed to help look after her financially and physically for most of this time. (My dad passed away when I was 17). This meant a lot of emotional, financial and time stress on top of the rest. (I know a LOT of you have family obligations that make your life a lot tougher as well)
  • I needed to pay for all my studies. I couldn’t get bursaries, loans and I had no external funding. Balancing paying for ‘life’ and studies was very tough.
  • I didn’t have university entrance when I left technical college. I had to work and study other stuff for two years before UNISA would register me for a degree (Very tough sacrifice when you’re 17 and UNISA can’t give you decent information and keeps changing their stories… MANY of you know THAT feeling!)
  • I worked at an accounting firm very early on, where they told me that they were registered with SAICA for articles. They weren’t. I was 19, and there was no internet with the type of information available now!) I was under the impression that I was doing articles… but ended up just wasting 2 years of my life at a seriously toxic work environment for seriously little pay, while adding no value to my CA journey. I eventually left to go work as a bookkeeper until I had finished my CTA. The work was less stressful, and the pay was higher. Helped pay for my studies.

At each point along my journey, I have been scared. Anxious (oh yeah, I struggle with anxiety. A LOT!), and worried that I won’t be able to make it to the next step, whatever that is.

I still struggle with this. Every phase of your life comes with a new challenges that makes you uncertain. The secret is to learn to trust that NOW doesn’t mean FOREVER, and that stuff that happens to you now may have value you don’t realise yet. 

When you’re IN the challenge, it’s very hard to see that you might come out the other side ok. 

Whether you do or don’t, will depend on whether you keep putting one foot in front of the other. 

Other’s have done stuff they never thought they could. So can you.

If you can relate, or have a query...


  1. What an incredible story!!!
    I’m reading it a day before my exam which is a repeat and I’m completely devastated from the exam I wrote yesterday- convinced I probably failed. I’m wondering and asking God if this is my calling or something I’m wasting my life on * I’ve been told so*.
    I can draw encouragement and strength from your story to take one more step forward despite everything saying NO.

    Thank you so much for sharing your story, yours is a voice that truly speak to my heart
    Be blessed and God bless the works of your hands.

    • I feel you. Been there, done that. REPEATEDLY. Like… every single exam! Three things I want you to keep top-of-mind. First: YOU are not marking that exam, let the marker decide whether you pass or fail. I nearly didn’t write an exam because I felt like I’d failed the previous one… thank heavens I did, because I actually passed! IMAGINE how horrid that would’ve been!
      Second: We are NOT reliable decision-makers when we’re IN the moment 🙂 We’re stressed, emotional, down, and NOT objective. It’s like taking heavy medication… you know the warning… Do not operate heavy machinery… because you’re not in the right state for it! Same with decisions. You can ‘feel’ horrid, but the best advice I have is to consciously tell yourself “I will make these decisions later. I do not need to make this call right now… I’m probably not in the right headspace.”
      Third: We ALWAYS think that only the things we succeed at, are ‘worth it’, that anything we don’t succeed at, is a waste. This is OUR mindset (thanks to society, stress, personality, background etc), but we MAKE this true or false for us. There are TONS of things in my life that were not successful that have proven to be ‘worth it’ for me, because I can see the experience and thinking it gave me, but it was not ‘for’ me in the long run. It will ONLY be a waste if you live in constant regret and take nothing from it. If we learn from it, we use it as leverage for whatever else we do. What you’ve done will NEVER be a waste… even if you never do anything more. You WILL always have your knowledge, your experience and your thinking. NO one can take that away from you. But you can throw it away by not appreciating it, or ONLY seeing the FINAL result as valuable. 🙂
      Keep going. Whatever happens, you are strong enough to take another step. To decide where you should be, and to keep moving 🙂
      Super-glad this helped you today 🙂

  2. …..Yvonne,thank you for the advise you gave one of the commentaries. I’m one such student that has grown to doubt myself so much ,especially when it comes to CTA…. of late i have been feeling like im not intelligent, infact i’m most probably below average since my test results have not been great through out the year.. ITS REALLY DIFFICULT TO THINK POSITIVE ABOUT YOURSELF, THAT YOU WILL PASS THE FINAL EXAM,WHEN YOU HAVE NEVER PASSED A SINGLE TEST BEFORE…but like you said,we are not the markers,we should let them decide,i will keep the Faith and hope for the best,,im glad despite how difficult the final exams were ,i managed to attempt them all, there is hope someday i will tell my story too and insipre someone out there..

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Post comment

WAIT! Download My Mindset & Studies Guide

Did you know that mindset is one of the biggest things that could be holding you back with your studies and you don't even know it?

Your data is 100% secure and will never be shared with anyone. Our privacy policy is here

My YouTube Channel...

Yvonne Starkey CA(SA)

Yvonne Starkey CA(SA)

I coach accounting students who are struggling with their study habits and mindset, and want their studies to be as effective as they used to be. See more on my about page

Recent posts

My Courses