As we hurtle towards another year of Ireland’s version of The Hunger Games (The Leaving Cert *gasp*) it’s difficult for me to imagine ever doing it again. It’s weird. I remember at the time being perfectly well-adapted, getting my study done, plus doing everything else that I felt I needed to. However, when I think about whether I could do it now, there’s no doubt in my mind that the motivation and work ethic would be non-existent. And I think I know why. In school we’re taught (more like forced to believe) that the three digit number we get at the end of 14 years-worth of education is the most influential, most important detail of our entire lives. And the truth is that it straight up isn’t.
This whole delusion that if you don’t do well in the leaving cert means you’re not gonna go to college or do what you want to do in life is the biggest load of BS I’ve ever heard. I happened to do pretty well in the LC and yet here I am, three years (*now five years lol) later with no clue of what it is I want to do. There are a lot of dudes who got a whole lot less than I did, doing exactly what they wanted to do and succeeding at it too. What I’m trying to get across here is that you can do really well or really badly in the leaving cert and it all means absolutely nothing. What matters is what you want to do. Once you know that, nothing can really stop you from just going out and doing it.
The mistake I made was believing that the LC was everything. It was the end goal; the metaphorical ice-cream after the worst dinner of all-time. I let myself be defined be a three-digit number. And granted I’m happy for that in regards to the joy it brought my family and the small amount of money it got me, overall, there are far more important things to be learning than how to write a postcard about your summer holidays in French to your own mother (who doesn’t speak French).
There’s no avoiding the Leaving Cert (yet), at some point we all have to face up and do it. All I’d say is don’t let it consume you. Take a minute. Breathe. Have a few cans. Do your work and know what you want; just don’t let three numbers define you.