I remember the nerves, or to be precise, that very anxious feeling of ‘shit, shit, shit’. I really didn’t want to blow it, or more importantly, disappoint my parents. I’d never hear the end of it. I really wouldn’t. I was the eldest, first child, there was, to some extent, a lot riding on this.
I had to get into college, I couldn’t deal with the ‘if not’ possibility. I knew I should’ve worked harder, focused more, studied better, knuckled down, nose to the grind stone. In sixth year, I suppose I lost my momentum, I never knew what I wanted to study, but I hated some of my subjects and didn’t have the maturity to shut up and work my ass off at them.
I knew, after disastrous mock results, I was walking a very thin wire. It was going to go one of two ways.
We did Guys&Dolls as our Transition Year musical. It was all about rolling the dice. The day the Leaving Cert rolled around, someone out there rolled my dice and rolled me a six. Thank you.
Hitting the ‘equals’ button on the calculator, the sea in front of me, people milling around. I knew, whatever number came up, that was it. No double-checking, no re-checks. That was it.
405. Not 600, not even 500, but just over 400. I’d take it. A quick skim down, I had passed maths, oh thank you greater being! Never did I have to sit another ghastly paper and see how X was getting on with Y. I probably should have been slightly more disappointed, but maybe, my 18 year old self had the mild maturity to see the slightly bigger picture. She was into College, she was happy.
Now, to call my parents; ugh, did I have to?
My dad was driving down to Wicklow at the time, and many months later, told me that he’d told the guy he was driving with ‘if she screams, it’s fine, if she’s silent, we’re fucked’. Telling your parents is nervewracking. Your standards may not measure up to theirs, or theirs may not measure up to yours. I’m genuinely grateful, that whatever my parents thought at the time or on the day of the results, they kept it to themselves.
Coming home that day, away from the security blanket of friends, I entered the house with trepidation. ‘Told ye I’d do it’ I said as I stepped in. Ever the chancer I suppose.
I guess, I’ve been chancing it ever since. 405 sent to me to do Irish. It gave me an amazing few years. To some, it might look like nothing, but my handful of points has done me proud. At the end of the day, it’s just a number, the real fun starts now. Now, you can plan and think.
My dad always said, ‘it’s not what happens to you in life, it’s how you handle it’. Six years on, amid failures and triumphs, I’m weeks away from securing two things I’ve been working at. I think I’m handling it just fine. 405? It’s been some craic!