Three words I was obsessed with
The Leaving Certificate, the three words I became totally obsessed with in secondary school. I’d always done pretty well in school. Actually pretty well is probably an understatement – I was your typical straight A student up to third year – cruised through school, hardly studied, but still managed to pull off good grades.
I had my whole life planned out. I was going to finish school, study medicine at college and live happily ever after working as a doctor. I’d wanted to be a doctor for as long as I could remember and was probably the only career path I’d considered. But the Leaving Cert cycle brought a bit of a reality check and life wasn’t as cruise-y as it had been before.
Started to struggle
For the first time in my life, I couldn’t just glance through the notes the night before and get 98% in the test the next day. Perhaps the biggest shock was Physics. Our teacher used to give us surprise quizzes to test our knowledge – I used to bomb out big time and really struggled. Luckily our teacher understood and used to help me before school. With his help I managed to scrape through with a B – a decent mark by most people’s standards, but I knew it wasn’t quite high enough to get into medicine, which is the course I wanted to do at college.
Seeing the school counsellor
I had it all worked out, or so I thought. I knew what kind of mark I needed, so every time I didn’t get at least 80% I was devastated. All through fifth and sixth year it gradually got worse. My teachers were noticing how stressed I was getting and finally my year co-ordinator suggested I went and saw our school counsellor. In addition to being stressed about my schoolwork, I was also trying to hold down a part-time job, do some volunteer work and was head girl..
Talking through options
Together with my counsellor I managed to work out some ways that I could manage my schoolwork without getting as stressed out. We also talked about other options for getting into the course I wanted. I’d always thought of it as all or nothing. If I didn’t get in straight after sixth year then it was all over. Talking things through made me realise that there were many other options. I could go to the UK to study – turns out the exam scores needed there places were lower, or I could repeat or I could even start another course and transfer after one year, or after I finished the course. Maybe I’d do another course and realise that maybe medicine wasn’t what I wanted to do after all.
Results came in
When I finally got my Leaving Cert results, they weren’t as high as I’d wanted and they didn’t get me into my first preference course. Naturally I was really upset, but once again talking to my counsellor put things into perspective. Even though I didn’t get into medicine, I was offered a fantastic opportunity to study Arts. I’m now halfway through my Arts degree and loving it, doing subjects that I’m really interested in like politics and psychology.
I’m still planning on studying medicine when I finish my arts degree, but I now realise that if that doesn’t happen it’s not the end of the world. Psychology and politics are not what I’ve always wanted to do, but I’m enjoying it. Who knows, someday I might actually be really good at it. For the first time I’m finding out that there is much more to life that getting into medicine. I’m getting involved in heaps of volunteer work and spending heaps of time with friends. Not getting into the course I wanted to do straight away has taught me that sometimes not getting what you want in life is the best stroke of luck.