I didn't like school, and I didn't like University much either. Every now and then I try to nail down why this was. I think, despite all my other anomalies, I was a basically clever kid, and I think I liked learning about new things. School was always confusing for me, because I could never figure out why I spent so much of my time reading and yet so little of my academic time succeeding. Everything was hard. My teachers continuously presented my parents with lacklustre grades, before comforting them with the notion that I had 'so much potential'. And I think it worked. I think this supposed potential was something that my parents and I invested a lot of hope in.
I'm guessing that for a lot of people reading this, the formula was much the same. I think for all of us kids who spent hours agonising at their kitchen table over long division, the only thing that stopped us from developing daily anxiety attacks was the fact that someday, none of this would matter. That academia was just the miles upon miles of red tape we had to cut through before our real lives began.
It worries me to think that as I write this, thousands of Irish teens are probably having anxiety attacks as they walk into their initial exams of the Leaving Cert. Their parents are telling them not to worry, and to just do their best, and that they’ll be proud of them no matter what. Their children are ignoring them, because what do parents know, anyway. They are already imagining a terrifying world where none of the poets they prepared for come up, leading them to subsequently drop thirty points, leading to a drastic alteration of their life’s plan.
It’s a fair fear, because there is a very high likelihood that the poets you studied will not come up, and that you will drop thirty points as a consequence. This will result in a smaller anxiety attack several months from now, and then you will forget about it forever. I encourage you to forget about it right now, in advance.
As someone who did their Leaving Cert all but four small years ago, and who has since worked a number of jobs and sat a number of interviews, I have it on good authority that none of it matters. At. All.