I have my doubts, but I made a decision last week. I found a college I want to go to. St Thomas’s. It’s small. It’s a teaching college. It has green grass and nineteen sixties architecture, and it’s just a bus journey away from me. I don’t need to worry about leaving home and being alone. I don’t need to worry about expensive accommodation in a different part of the country.
I didn’t feel quite so nervous when I’d sorted that out.
I was told I could still change my mind, if I wanted to. The process opens again after my Leaving Cert exams, but I think I’m okay. I think I’m happy with this decision, even if, you know, I still have my doubts about the future. I mean, I don’t think I’ll ever really know what I want to do with my life, but I think I can be a teacher. I think I can be there to help kids in the future who don’t really have many friends or a great idea of where they want to go, and I think I can keep an eye out for bullies.
No one should have to go their whole school life without someone looking out for them. No one. And I think I want to be that person.
That’s a good reason to be a teacher, right? I was told by the counsellor this morning that I should start thinking about why I want to do the course I’ve decided upon, in case I have more doubts in the summer and she’s not there to help me. Then she asked me if I felt sick, and I remembered that she was talking to me before the Mock Exams started.
Spoiler alert: they’re awful.
I think I must have brought a dozen pens into the quote-unquote exam hall with me. About four people asked me if I was “compensating for something”. Dickheads.
I honestly have no idea how long a pen is supposed to last. I tried to figure it out, and about an hour into looking it up online and ending up on just about every blog I’ve neglected to follow in the past few months, I realised I should have been studying for the poetry section of the English paper. Because for some reason, half of our time is spent studying for something like an eighth of the grade.
Really though, I think I did okay.
I reckon that’s a fair estimate. Okay. Kind of middle-of-the-class. I don’t think I failed, anyway, though it feels weird to do Paper 2 before Paper 1, and even weirder to think that I have a whole other day of English ahead of me tomorrow. The school’s trying to copy the actual Leaving Cert as much as possible, which means we’re in for two weeks of horror. We had a Maths exam, today, too, and I panicked and forgot basic arithmetic for about three minutes.
My calculator will never again be used as much as it was today.
The biggest problem I had today was realising that I didn’t really study for the exams. Like, at all. I try to study. I sit down at my desk, but when I get about half an hour into the work, I lose all hope that I’ll actually pass an exam. Then I start doodling and reading and highlighting everything on the page, and next thing I know it’s close to midnight and I haven’t eaten or spoken to anyone or actually done my homework for the next day, and I have to rush to do that.
I’m worried about Irish, to be honest. I don’t think I know the language well enough to actually sit an exam. At all. It makes me feel sick just thinking about it. Geography, I’ll be fine. Business…maybe. But Chemistry. No. I’m going to fail it. I’m definitely going to fail Chemistry. I don’t know why I chose Chemistry except that I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life a couple of years ago.
And look how far I’ve come!
Despite everything, I think I’m one of the most held-together people in the year right now. I didn’t get sick this morning. I haven’t been having panic attacks. I haven’t been frantically looking sheets and books and all sorts of notes to try cram as much as I can into my head in the few minutes before each exam. I haven’t been writing notes on the palms of my hands in a painful misunderstanding of anatomy.
I’m fine. So when I was asked this morning if I felt sick and I remembered the Mock Exams, I said no. I said I was feeling okay. While I’m in that room, I can’t be hurt by them. I’m safe, and no one can tell me I’m going to fail, and no one’s going to make fun of me because I bring too many pens into the exams just because I’m worried one will stop working. Or all of them. It’s a possibility.
And I know, I just know, that one of the assholes I somehow ended up surrounded by is going to need a pen during the exams, and I’ll be expected to help them out. Because I’m that guy. I’m the quiet guy, who has to be nice. I’m just shy, right?
If it wasn’t so painfully obvious that the teachers in this school don’t want to get involved in the extremely messed up social lives of their students, I don’t think I would have been pushed to put St Thomas’s at the top of my CAO form. But here it is in writing: I want to be a teacher because I don’t want anyone to have to go through the same bullying that I’ve gone through.
Yes, bullying. I’ll you, Whatever, because you have to listen, you have to believe. Teachers refuse to notice, because it’s easier. I don’t blame them.