Sunday 22 April 2018

Exam Diary: After the nightmares, my dreams may be coming true

Leaving Cert diairist Dearbháil Clarke
Leaving Cert diairist Dearbháil Clarke

Dearbháil Clarke

We've done it. We've made it through. We can finally live our lives without the pinching pressure of the Leaving Cert at the back of our brains. I feel like a dog with its collar taken off, scratching blissfully at the spot where it used to chafe and itch.

I have to admit that the wait was far more uncomfortable than I had anticipated. I can't count the number of odd nightmares I've had about the Leaving Cert over the past few months, even on the days I barely thought of it. It skulked around in my subconscious like the creepy tenant upstairs who never leaves the house.

Now, with each passing moment, that pressure ebbs further and further away. My perpetual pessimism took a blow yesterday when I opened the dreaded envelope. I pulled out the application to view scripts first and set it aside, muttering "I'm going to need that".

Then I pulled out the results sheet, and stopped in my tracks. "Oh . . . I don't think I'm going to need that after all."

I'm still in shock. All night long I had been fretting about whether I'd manage to get my second choice in the third or fourth round of offers.

That sheet of paper clearly had more faith in me than I did. I got 560 points, which bodes spectacularly for my offers on Monday. Dreams may be coming true!

Best of all, my terrible mock result in English gave way to a solid A1 in the real thing. Don't let the mocks discourage you, future students - use them to push you further!

I am thoroughly exhausted, bemused, and giddy with excitement. It turns out that the saying "Hard work pays off" isn't just an old platitude to make people feel better. It's the truth.

It seems that I've started accepting that life isn't a merciless, unfeeling tunnel of darkness - I think that means I'm officially no longer a teenager. My parents insisted on celebrating as they did with my two sisters before me: an all-expenses-paid meal in my restaurant of choice. There's no better way to quell the butterflies in your stomach than by drowning them in good food, after all.

I want to sincerely thank the Irish Independent for giving me a soapbox to babble from, and I want to thank my fellow students for braving through this with me.

Whatever happened yesterday, hold your heads high - this really is only the beginning.

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

Irish Independent

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