On this the eve of the Leaving Cert exams I could give you the typical advice as a diabetes nurse to all those out there with diabetes sitting exams. But daring to be different, I’ll tell you the following story.
I remember my Leaving Cert like it was yesterday….in actual fact I remember both of them quite well. Yes I repeated & no, it wasn’t because I was stupid. First time around I was about as ready for the big bad world as a baby in the womb, being mature was not one of my stronger points and my exam results proved it. I wasn’t ready to leave home, I wasn’t ready to face the world and make it my oyster. I was quite content to mooch around for another 12 months being minded by mammy.
By the time my second Leaving Cert had come around, I was ready. In actual fact too ready. My stress levels were rocketing, the weight was falling off me, and on top of that, we were moving house.There was lots of personal upheavals and battles at home to contend with, It was a horrible time.
Like all mornings of the Leaving Cert starting in Ireland, the sun was blazing and continued to be that way until the day of my final exam. Then after the Leaving Cert was over, we had the worst summer on record. I remember sitting in the exam hall with the doors open and smelling the freshly cut grass outside and hearing the children playing. I felt so deprived.
I nearly drove myself into an early grave that summer waiting for results. I had become severely depressed and bordering on anorexia but I had no idea of this. There are no photos of me that summer, I tore them all up, I could not look at the shadow I had become and what I had put myself through. All that I cared about was getting my two honors and five passes for nursing. I became obsessed and overwhelmed by the wait and how I would face failure, could it be possible to sit the Leaving Cert for a third time? It meant so much to me, my mother and my family that I did well, because for the traumatic childhood I endured, I felt I deserved a turn of good fortune. I felt it was owed to me.
The day of my results had arrived and I slowly made my way to the school. I remember the principal meeting me at the door before I ever had a chance to enter the room and informing me I had got my honors for nursing. I did not know whether to cry or collapse, or even both. I went home, told my mother, and went to bed. And I slept for nearly 24 hours straight, the first proper days sleep I had since the Leaving Cert year began. I think I melted into the bed with relief.
The rest they say is history. Eighteen years later I am writing this with my Masters and nursing certs on the wall looking down at me, in my own premises, running my own business. Never in a million years if you had told the eighteen year old me I would have achieved this, would I have believed you. While I would never want to go through the hell of a Leaving Cert again, I would like to go back to talk to my eighteen year old self the morning of the exams beginning and tell her the following pearls of wisdom.
It will be ok
This statement might sound very sweeping and generalized, but if you have put in the hard work, if you know in your heart the days leading up to the exams that you can do no more, put away the books, stop the cramming and take a deep breath. No matter what I thought, life owes you nothing only what you put in to it. So if you can read this and agree you have given it your all, then no matter what the result….it will be ok.
Never stop dreaming
While the Leaving Cert right now might feel like the most important exam of your life, it is only a stepping stone. While success might seem like it is built on dreams, goals, hopes, passions and desire, it is very much about hard work, discipline and keeping your eye firmly on the prize. Once you have achieved your goal, find another to inspire you so as you never become lazy. Failure is only a hairs breath away.
Failure is the key to success
Life will always throw you curve balls, and failure comes in many different guises. There is no such thing as stupid once you learn from your mistakes, but if you choose not to, well then your intelligence is questionable.
Believe in yourself…there is no such thing as no
I have had loads of people right me off at different stages of my life. This has only added to the fire in my belly that keeps me going. That voice in my head that tells me I can when everyone tells you you can’t. Not all the time, but most of the time, people tell you that you can’t or you should not because they cannot do it and they maybe secretly jealous of you. They wish they had your balls.
Believe you are good enough, believe in what you do and believe that you can make a difference.
Always take the road less traveled…it is the one that makes all the difference
It is ok to be different, in actual fact being different has always been my best quality. It has served me well in making tough decisions throughout life, as I always thought outside the box. Its the people who always stand outside the box are ones that get noticed.
It is ok to worry, it shows you are alive, it shows you care
I am a worrier, I worry about the least little thing. I give my worries some of my time, but have learnt down through the years not to let them take me over, especially at night. What can you do lying in your bed at night that can change your worries right there and then? Probably nothing. So park them and get some rest, because you will need to be refreshed in finding a way around those worries.
Many people are afraid to live, paralyzed by everyday conformity and expectations of what others want them to be. They never really get to feel the freedom of actually living, and therefore loving life. When you love life and want the most and best from everyday, life will give you so much back.
Never stop being grateful
No matter how shitty and horrible your day, week, life is….always no matter how small, find something to be grateful for everyday. This will give you the inspiration to keep going when times are tough.
You are always better than what you think you are
When I was eighteen sitting my Leaving Cert for the second time, I was not kind to myself. I put myself down, I never felt good enough. Sometimes I can still feel that way, but the more I achieve and acknowledge my achievements, the lesser that feeling gets. If only I had known back then, what I could be now, God only knows what I would have achieved.