Leaving Cert tests character and sense of self

In this penultimate piece, I thought I’d let the world know a little bit about how it feels to be a Leaving Cert student in the sunny month of May. It’s certainly colourful.

For example, I could tell you how many days there are left until the Leaving Cert, right now, as you are reading this, but I’d probably give myself a panic attack. Let’s just say it’s pretty close. Like when you’re on a near-empty bus and someone decides to take the free seat next to you. You’re wondering why on earth they would do that, but you’re also too polite to say anything. The Leaving Cert is that type of close.

I have also recently become best friends with lethargy. Fatigue was nice and everything, but lethargy has that extra kick to it. It makes you do stupid things, like tell your maths grind teacher, with full confidence, that 3 is half of 12.

My mom and I decided it might be a good idea to skip school the next day and simply sleep, and sleep I did. In fact, I woke up just as the school day ended. Granted we get off early on a Wednesday, but still, waking up 14 hours after you fell asleep is a little disconcerting. My right eye was swollen with sleep and my legs felt weak beneath me as I made my way downstairs to get a cup of coffee.

I then got a text informing me I had literally slept through my very last day of classes.

It’s been a bit of a weird month.

Leaving Cert tests character and sense of self

I don’t feel ready for any exam, if I’m going to be totally honest with you. It’s not like I’ve been slacking since the pres; in fact I’ve been putting in extra hours, going to more grinds, and even the odd revision course. I know that I’m going to finish this school year without regretting a single thing. I worked my butt off, I took breaks if I absolutely needed them, and I tried to take care of myself. This has been a test of character, and sense of self. I’ve matured more in the last two years than I have the rest of my life combined.

Even though the stress I’m feeling right now feels like a solid, immovable wall, I can’t help but see little slivers of relief and hope in the cracks of its concrete. The rest of the whole wide world has never been closer to my fingertips, and all those crazy daydreams I had at 15 are now becoming possible. I can barely believe I made it through Sixth Year alive. I have been waiting to leave school pretty much since junior infants. After one week at primary school, I informed my mother that there was no point in me going back, because our teacher “hadn’t even taught us to read yet”. Over a decade later, I can read, and (hopefully) the next step for me will be college! I think five-year-old me would agree it’s been worth it, after all.


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