Congratulations you survived one of the toughest tests of your life. The Leaving Certificate is something most Irish people can remember as a flurry of Less Stress More Success books, cans of red bull, an outpour of gratitude from the general population for the inevitable sunshine and that all-important candle lighting ritual from the Grannies. Also this guy “Leigh annois go cúramach ar do scrudú-páipéar na treoracha agus na ceistenna a gabhann le cuid A” No one forgets that guy, national treasure so he is. I was nineteen years old in my Leaving Cert year. I was also in a secure psychiatric unit due to an overdose and a psychotic episode which eventually led to a Schizophrenia diagnosis…as you do. Sure we all have our problems.
I strongly considered abandoning ship and
dropping out but a very kind teacher convinced me to go ahead with my exams. I got 150 points followed by a long silence from my father. I’m kidding really he and everyone else were just happy that I had scraped a pass given the circumstances.
The results coming out next week have got me wondering: if I could go back to that point as my now older and wiser (lol) self; what pearls of wisdom I would bestow on nineteen year old me. I don’t have a time machine so writing my thoughts here for any current school leavers to stumble upon is the next best thing. While the LC is most definitely of high importance it’s also just a teeny tiny little bit of complete and utter bollix. You’ve probably worked out over the last 5/6 years that some of the school curriculum is waffle, half critical life skills and half skills you will never actually need in daily life. The positive news is you can wipe all those maths formulas from your memory. Unless you plan on being a mathematician or rocket scientist. In that case good for you.
Here is possibly the worst kept secret in Ireland’s education system, once you turn 23 you can study whatever the hell you want as a mature student. There are also many back doors into several sought after careers. The points you get next week (depending on when you are reading this) are not the be all and end all. The Leaving Cert results are of course a stressful time in your life. You may not get the results you hoped for, you could just miss out on your CAO points and not get your preferred choice. You might not even get in anywhere. This can seem harsh or cruel but what’s important is how you deal with this disappointment. Care about your future by all means but do not put your mental health at risk over what is essentially a setback. In an ideal world everyone would get a great LC, study what they want and have the career they always dreamed of. Unfortunately luck may not always be on your side, factors out of your control can let you down and sometimes it is a case of life not happening how you had planned it.
STORY TIME: I used to plan my entire life year by year and have a bad habit of expecting things to turn out just so. But they never did. My big dream in life was to live in Australia. Years were spent focusing on reaching this goal. No matter how sick I got or how many knocks life gave me I was determined to get there. And last year I finally did. Living the dream on Bondi Beach with a great job and plenty of sunshine. Only five months in I found out that my mother was really sick and I had to come home. Long story short: Mam died, I couldn’t get another visa to go back and so the Australian dream ended. Not ideal. So myself and Mr Pretty Sane found ourselves back home with nothing. It’s been an extremely tough time but slowly things are coming together and starting to make sense. In a way it was like a blank slate for us to rebuild our lives, when you got nothing, you’ve got nothing left to lose.
The reason for that little story time is to tell you that while you might be busy making plans, the universe could be laughing at your efforts. You never know what is around the corner, some things may surprise you. When I think about every positive thing in my life now, every blessing, I realise that I didn’t actually plan for any of them, they just sort of happened. Have dreams and aspire to them by all means, be positive and work hard but if it’s all going wrong maybe there is a reason. Try not to focus on where you think you should be going in life. What you should be doing. Who you should meet. Who you should be. You are where you are, whatever will be will be, all you can do is just go with it. If you get your Leaving Cert results and find yourself sorely disappointed, it is not the end of the world. If your college course turns out to be completely wrong for you after all, never mind there is no such thing as wasted time when you are learning to be who you are destined to be. If your whole life suddenly goes tits up, if it ends up a big mess – it is never too late to turn it all around. If it all goes horribly wrong for you on results day, one day that moment will make sense. Your mental well-being and belief in yourself is far more important than a couple of A, B, C and D’s. And FYI soon no one will ever ask you again what you got in this or that subject. I don’t think anyone has actually asked me since. People move on and stop caring very quickly. The leaving cert gradually turns into a distant memory and you become too consumed with being an adult doing grown up stuff and adulting all over the place.
Me neither dog. Finishing school for good is an amazing time, you have it all ahead of you. Do your best, take everything in, be kind and don’t beat yourself up over any mistakes you make along the way. Dream big but do not make yourself miserable if they take longer than expected to come true. I’m going to sound very Rolling Stones here (yes young people they are a band) when I say you can’t always get what you want but if you try sometimes you might find you get what you need. For a more age appropriate quote here’s some inspo from Ms Jenner
Lovely. Thanks for that Kylie.