In the first of this series, Hannah Farrell describes her Leaving Cert experience, her dismay in finding out she didn't get enough points for her first choice and how she's a firm believer that what is for you, certainly won't pass you by.
I think the car journey was the worst. Or maybe it was the tedious wait in the narrow, somewhat haunting corridor that led to the principal’s office, the place where our fate was hidden.
Of course, I’d spent the last two months since my final exam pacing through ideas of hopeful jubilation, yet also, the possibility of painstaking sorrow. What past pupil hasn’t?
However, it was not until that moment, standing with my peers, leaning against the old walls, did I find the words of W.B Yeats haunting in my mind: "I know that I shall meet my fate somewhere among the clouds above", accompanied by memories of my first Leaving Cert.
The fresh, crisp brown envelope had become a vision of fear in my eyes, in the eyes of many of you readers too, I’m sure.
However, every year you get the ‘reassurers’ with their posts on the various social media platforms delivering messages of ‘this piece of paper does not define you’. However, in that single moment, it does.
It defines your mindset for the rest of the day, it defines whether that salty tear drop sliding down the slope of your cheek is significant of your irrepressible delight or unbearable devastation.
Results day brings together different walks of life. You get those who didn’t care during the year and not much has changed as their eyes scroll down the letters with just enough effort to form a smile.
The screamers and the ones who can’t believe their luck. The modest individuals, who even with the infamous 625 points to their name, shrug their shoulders and grin like it was just another day.
Me? Well, nobody wants to be the one crying, but when your hopes and dreams are ripped from your grasp and torn to shreds, holding back the tears could never help. I don’t think anyone deserves to feel miserable on a day like that.
My heart felt numb as though it had forgotten what it was to pump blood and instead took the role of transporting such a poisonous sensation of self-loathing and inadequacy to every cell in my body. Two years on the trot and I still fell short.
My best was not good enough and the piece of paper made it clear as it mocked my hope of procuring my first choice. Taunting me that I would never be good enough.
An unthinkable heartbreak, as I longed for the Hannah I had dreamt of for years. A girl who, until this point, only succeeded in existing in my imagination. A girl who would never exist outside of my head.
The Hannah I was to become that day - relieved, yet overwhelmed at finally catching the glimpse of light at the end of the dark tunnel that is sixth year.
I thought it was the day that I could finally breathe, but there I was gasping for air. Drowning in a pool of uncertainty and impatience. No escape route to be found.
Waking up on Thursday morning I was struck with the realisation that my mornings of blissful imagination had come to an abrupt end and were instead met with confusing ideas of where my fate lay if not with my first choice.
Yet I could feel the support of those with genuine care for me, prodding at my heart, the kind, tender words of compassion pulling me up from the deep, dark waters that the events of Results Day had thrown me in.
The long wait until Monday haunted me and certainly filled me with dread, yet a little less so when I finally became conscious of reality, that my CAO form was filled with courses that sparked my heart enough to cause me to list them there.
It's often the case that you have to force yourself to remember that not getting your first choice isn’t the end of the world.
After all, you have chosen a handful from the thousands of available courses. Therefore, I believe that no matter what choice you’re offered, first or tenth, in hindsight you are being given the opportunity to study a course that triggered your interest as opposed to being forced into a course that you’d never dream of considering.
Sometimes in life, what you wanted wasn’t intended for you and looking back a week later, that single thought was what got me through until 6 am on Monday morning for the release of the CAO first round offers. (Blaring Noah And The Whale to remind me that L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N also helped.)
Everyday the wait tormented me, the hurt of the situation at hand lingering like a shadow, but I’m a firm believer that what’s for you shall not pass you and it was a simple case of another destiny already being set out for me.
All I could tell myself as consolation was that whatever was to happen on Monday, I would surely make the most of it.
The luminous glow of the outside world used all its might to pry open my eyes, fighting its way through a slit between the curtains and I knew it was finally the morning of new beginnings.
I knew that my charging phone held all the answers and staring nervously at it for a moment or two, I could sense the tension rushing through my bloodstream, numbing my limbs.
Dear Reader, my name is Hannah and I repeated my Leaving Cert in June 2016. The 17th of August was supposed to be, in my mind, after copious amounts of hard work through tough preparation and cruel memorisation, the happiest day of my young life.
I thought I knew what my future held, but how can anyone know so early in life what is best for them?
No, the 17th of August wasn't all I'd hoped for, but as I logged into my CAO application bright and early on Monday morning, my world was instantly filled with a technicolour vibrancy.
A never ending state of elation and I'm finding it incredibly difficult not to smile. Seeing that I'd been offered my second choice, I couldn't possibly have clicked "Accept" quick enough.
I was no longer trapped in a state of weary ambivalence. (Almost comical how in such an advanced age of technology, the most mentally vulnerable generation is left in the cold to wait for a college offer. Hands up for a joint Results and Offers Day anyone? But who am I to disagree with this ‘perfect’ system?)
Exciting times lie ahead for sure from what I've heard so far, and although I may be threading now in dangerous, unfamiliar waters as I take my first breaths outside of our country's claustrophobic school system, I’m hopeful that sometime in my promising future I’ll look back and thank the force that tried to drown my spirit, because I haven’t stopped swimming since.