Tuesday 20 February 2018

Exam Diary with India McGirr: Roll on June 21 -- and my freedom

India McGirr

I WAS looking at the ever-mounting stack of sheets balanced precariously on my desk last night and trying to remember my pre-Leaving Cert room.

Did such a golden era even exist?

It did, of course. Back then the walls weren't covered with post-its of quotes and definitions trying to imprint themselves on my brain.

Instead of textbooks all over the floor there were clothes, and there was certainly no fear of getting lost in the mountain range of notes now overlooking over my desk.

Oh, to be back there.

They say time flies when you're having fun.

Naturally, that would lead us to believe that when we find ourselves in a decidedly unpleasant or awkward or life-threatening situation, it will settle into an agonizingly slow pace, gleefully enjoying our painful struggle through minutes and hours that just refuse to end.

We've all been there -- the never-ending bus journey beside that one person who fails to comprehend that headphones are designed to protect fellow passengers from cringe-worthy music, the boundless black-hole of conversation with obscure, slightly intoxicated relatives at family gatherings, and the Leaving Certificate.

Except for some inexplicable reason, time decided to abandon all rational sense and adopt Project Maths logic when it comes to the Leaving. It contradicts everything we previously assumed to be true. Why? Just because.

And that is how I found myself sitting at my desk, the night before my Leaving, wondering where, exactly, did the past year disappear to?

I am grudgingly forced to accept that Facebook commandeered a considerable amount of precious study time. I can safely say that it will, in fact ,'be grand', that Newcastle striker Demba Ba will solve all the world's problems and believe it or not, 'You only live once'.

Hamlet quotes? Not quite as clear.

It really is bizarre that two whole years of slaving over seemingly endless essays and sample papers has come down to these final make-or-break exams.

But dwelling on that thought threatens to send me down an Ophelia-like spiral of insanity.

All things considered, I cannot help but feel unbelievably relieved that D-Day is finally here.

It's been a shadow over my life for so long. At last, there is light at the end of the tunnel -- June 21 and all the delicious freedom that awaits! The end is nigh, and parting is not so much sweet sorrow as welcome bliss.

English Paper 1 has always inspired mixed feelings in me. There are those who can breeze in, open the paper and let fly, as if their pen is running on adrenaline rather than ink.

And then there's the other side of the spectrum entirely, a very unpleasant place indeed to find yourself.

It is there that your mind suddenly decides to draw a blank and stubbornly refuses to yield anything even remotely creative.

There's absolutely no way of knowing where you are going to fall. But time will tell

* India McGirr is a pupil at Gorey Community School, Co Wexford.

Irish Independent

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