independent

Thursday 23 November 2017

Message to all those Leaving Cert students - the world is out there waiting for you all

By Justine O'Mahony

Do you remember the day you got your Leaving Cert results? I do. For me it was August 1988, the sun was splitting the stones and my heart was in my mouth.

At the time, it seemed to be the single most important event that was ever going to happen to me and if I had screwed it up my life was over!

Of course it wouldn't have been. I'd have been desperately disappointed and my parents would have been rightly pissed off, but we'd have gotten over it. They'd have probably made me repeat, which at the time seemed like the ultimate in public humiliation, but you know as I said, we'd have gotten over it.

And anyway all the angst was academic (pardon the pun) because I did get my Leaving. And despite my English result ( I was absolutely robbed in my opinion!) I got what I deserved which meant enough points to go to college and do the course I wanted to do.

It felt like the best day of my life although of course it wasn't. Events such as getting married and having babies superseded it in years to come but on that golden August day it felt like I had the world at my feet. I went out with my friends, got plastered on bottles of Ritz and dreamed of becoming an award-winning journalist.

Watching the youngsters waiting for their results last week brought it all back to me. The nerves, the anxiety, the fatalistic feeling that the world was going to end or your mother was going to kill you!

But on that one day in August it feels like your whole future is hanging by a knife thread.

And with the advent of social media, these kids are under so much pressure nowadays. Pressure to perform, to achieve, to sometimes be somebody they're not.

I just want to say - life doesn't end after Leaving Cert. Even if you don't get what you want, you have so many more options open to you nowadays you just have to believe in yourself. There are so many avenues to explore, ways of getting what you want, just don't give up on yourself.

If I was to send a message to my 18-year-old self I would firstly say, 'Get rid of the perm, it's hideous!'

Then I would say, 'relax! The Leaving Cert is not the be all and end all. All you can do is try your best and if that doesn't work try again. What is for you won't pass you by. Work hard, be a nice person and take every opportunity you're offered.'

The world is out there waiting for you all, grab it with both hands!

Wexford People

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