There is more than one way to achieve a goal. Amanda Cassidy on the milestone that is the Leaving Certificate, and what comes next.
All the news bulletins will lead with it. (The wait is over for more than 55 thousand students as the Leaving Cert results are released today). Experts will be on hand to give advice, remind you of the helpline number (1800-265-165) and give details of important dates (you can lodge an appeal between Friday, August 16th, and Thursday, August 22nd. 2019 points will be available on CourseFinder from 2 pm on Thursday 15th August).
RTÉ news will interview ecstatic students hugging their friends. They'll do a piece on that person who aced every subject, and the front pages of the papers will capture an image of students getting their results, either bowed in disappointment, heads in hands or high-fiving each other, grinning manically.
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But what nobody will capture is the essence of what it means to be in your position today - the culmination of all those years in school, all the projects, early mornings, bells, deadlines, tests that got you to the point you are at today.
None of the kerfuffle today will focus on those who are happy enough — not delighted but not massively disappointed either. The luke-warm majority of us who've been through the wringer, but who don't make the headlines. The ordinary, everyday former students who are trying to digest what just went down today.
Nothing can begin to identify the anticipation, the pressure, the 'Oh Jesus' moments that you will be feeling or have felt for the past while, that sick feeling when you stare into the abyss that is your future knowing that today totally defines it.
Except that it doesn't.
I want to tell you today that you are more than just the sum of your points. (Even those who smashed it and are on course to their dream course or path should know that). It's a big milestone, but there will be more like this. It is important, but it isn't everything.
Your results today may define your college course or whether or not you will repeat, they might even give someone a sense of your ability to study. But they don't let anyone know who you are, what your values are, the type of person you have chosen to be, they don't give the slightest hint about your hopes and dreams, your goals, your integrity or ability. They are a series of numbers that will undoubtedly affect your future but they are still just numbers.
"The truth is that life is about as swirly and twirly as a river meander and this is simply your oxbow lake moment".
Before and After
I used to think that life was a gently sloping diagonal line that just keeps getting gradually better the harder we work, the nicer we are, the more ambitious we become. And while it mostly pays to be the best we can be, not everything unfolds exactly like that. The truth is that life is about as swirly and twirly as a river meander and this is simply your oxbow lake moment.
Your achievement today ought to also be celebrated as a testament to getting through one of the first biggest challenge you have faced, and not just academically. Expectations might have been high from elsewhere, you might have put a lot of pressure on yourself, you might have been devastated by your performance, or maybe you are rethinking your next steps. Maybe you are just a little bit apprehensive about what comes next or perhaps you just feel like a stiff drink before you contemplate what these numbers you are staring at mean exactly for you, as a person.
You are finally at that stage of life you've been dying to get to — the part where you can ditch the uniform (if you had one), put the school routine behind you and set sail for whatever comes next for you; college life, a new career, apprenticeship, travel, work...Today you are sitting smack bang in the After bit of Before and After.
"Expect to feel slightly unanchored as you transition into life after schooling".
It can be daunting.
Change is hard. Don't underestimate how comforting all those familiar September starts have been over the past 6 or 14 years. Same old, same old is tedious but it also brings comfort. Expect to feel slightly unanchored as you transition into life after schooling.
Don't forget that contained within anticipation is also excitement for the unknown; seeing plans come to fruition, changing course, reevaluating what's ahead. You are the shaper of your own destiny and it is staring you in the face. That feeling? That feeling in the pit of your stomach you have been feeling all summer, that's butterflies.
Not everyone will tell you this - they might be too caught up in the process, but do yourself a favour; take a breath and enjoy the view from these crossroads. You did this. You got this far. Everything is going to be all right.
Images via Unsplash.com
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