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Exam Diary: I've got a tiger by the tail and great things are on horizon


Leaving Cert diairist Dearbháil Clarke

Leaving Cert diairist Dearbháil Clarke

Leaving Cert diairist Dearbháil Clarke

That was lovely, wasn't it? We've just spent two whole months in a weird but blissful stasis, alternately trying out our independence and binge-watching Netflix.

I'm going to share some anecdotes before we start thinking about these results. When I walked out of my last exam in June, the attendant handed me an envelope with a nod. It was a note from the school secretary saying that someone from the local radio station had called and would like to speak to me.

My feelings at that moment were rather mixed. There was confusion: "I'm a teenage hermit, what new insight can I possibly give to the radio?" There was also abject terror: "I can't make a phone call without panicking, how am I going to manage an interview on-air?" Finally, there was an odd sense of pride: "Huh. For a few seconds there, I had my own secretary."

I think this combination of feelings is an apt summary of early adulthood, because I've been feeling them consistently over the past few months.

I started an internship at my local newspaper soon after. Despite my wonderfully dry editor's opening warning: "This is probably going to turn you off journalism forever", once I battled through the burdensome feeling that inevitably comes with being an intern, I grew to love the work and the new insights it offered.

Last month I was noticed by the committee of the Tiger Dublin Fringe Festival. They asked me to be on their panel of judges for the festival next month. Confusing? Yes. Terrifying? Yes. Flattering enough to inflate my head a bit? Most likely, I haven't measured. Did I agree to the offer in record time despite all of this? Of course I did.

See, the biggest thing I've learned over the summer is that our feelings are often irrational. They can discourage us from doing things we know we have to do - make phone calls, for example - and they can make a nightmare out of things we should be happy about - like these results.

I know that the results don't matter, but I still couldn't sleep last night. I know that they're not a measure of my worth. They're barely even a measure of my academic ability, thanks to the lack of a reliable continuous assessment system. The only thing they do clearly measure is exactly how annoyed the examiner was that the lady next to her on the Dart was taking up all of her elbow room. Low blow?

I tried to be blasé and cool and decided to just pick the results up online, but then my two sisters, in Melbourne and Philadelphia, called to make sure that I'll march down to the school at 9am sharp and call them immediately, envelope in hand. There's nothing like older siblings to put you back in your place.

I'm scared about these results, and I'm scared about the future, but we've got to swallow those unhelpful thoughts and get this over and done with. Help is close at hand, and there are great things on the horizon. Good luck!

Dearbháil Clarke was the Irish Independent Leaving Certificate exam diarist 2015. She is a former pupil of Meán Scoil Mhuire, Co Longford.

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