An ode to the class of 2020, on a Leaving Cert Results Night like no other
A day of celebration, where the usual methods are out of the question. An ode to the class of 2020 – here’s to you
No reels of tickets to a night at Palace or Diceys (are they still cool places to go?). No sky-high heels and naggins hidden in clutch bags. No messy embraces, group hugs, and cries of ‘we’ll stay friends in college!’. The Leaving Cert results night that I remember is a far cry from what this year’s graduates will be doing tonight. Celebrations will be much more understated, with a dark cloud of Covid hanging overhead. But while it may feel like that cloud will never shift, I promise you’ll come out the other side.
No matter what way they try to swing it, the Leaving Cert is a big deal. And that’s not because of it ‘determining your life’ (it doesn’t), or your worth (definitely doesn’t) — it’s simply because of the cultural behemoth it’s become in the Irish psyche. It’s a milestone, and we build it up to seem like the great crossroads of your life, the time that determines everything that follows. Grown adults have nightmares about it, years after they sat their own exams – there’s Leaving Cert weather, Leaving Cert nights on the town, Leaving Cert traditions that last much longer than the studying sessions.
Whether you got the results you wanted today or not, understand that this is not the great crossroads of your life. The truth is, the great crossroads don’t exist. Life is made up of thousands of little decisions, made every day, that make up who we are, what we do and where we want to go. There are no irreversible choices, no roads that can’t be visited again later on. If you aren’t happy with your results, or your CAO offer this week, or your course later this month when you go to college — you can always turn it around.
There are business owners who sold their first product at 50. There are stay-at-home parents who get their first job in their 40s. Grandparents who start lucrative side hustles when retirement gets too boring. And if this all seems too far away for you, there are millions of twenty-somethings figuring out their lives. You never really stop figuring out your life — different parts grow at different times. There’s no race to the finish line, there’s no prize for who gets there first. All there is is the figuring out — and it gets pretty fun once you stop worrying about it.
You’ve had a more turbulent final year of school than most — well, than everyone. Trying to make it day-to-day during a global pandemic, when you had never used those words in a sentence a few months ago, is hard enough. Studying for a series of very difficult exams, when you’re getting no information, no guidance, and can’t even access the comfort of your friend group or your teachers, is much, much harder. I salute teenagers around this time every year for making it through — I salute this year’s class more than any.
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