Updated: Jul 31, 2020
Hi readers! I hope you are all keeping well in these times and looking after each other. This post is coming a little later than usual, but I think it is one that people will relate to the most on some level.
If you have actually seen the film Easy A with Emma Stone, you might be slightly confused by the title of this post. Hold your horses! It’s not what you think … or it might be exactly what you think?
For those of you thinking about education and academia, we have a winner. For those that didn’t get it, maybe next time!
If you have read my previous posts, you may have gathered that education has played a massive part in my life – both a good and a bad thing. But this wasn’t always the case and it’s a problem that I seem to have created for myself by myself.
I have never thought of myself as intelligent, definitely not a child genius! I was always just average. You wouldn’t find me in a top set class at school and I guess I never really thought much of it myself. Don’t get me wrong, I always tried hard and I did my best, but my efforts fell short most of the time.
But it wasn’t completely my fault. Our education system has drilled us from a young age to perform under extreme pressure to better prepare us for our respective futures. We are told that exams and assignments are essential in deciding colleges, universities and eventually our careers. One false move and it’s a stain on an otherwise perfect record. I still have my stain and no amount of Vanish will be removing it anytime soon.
I have always been a high achiever and I have been guilty of creating immensely high expectations of myself. Why am I like this, you might ask? Well, it’s easy to create these expectations when you have always felt so inadequate. What did I really have to offer to anyone if I was unable to do anything for myself? There’s never anything wrong with needing a little boost, we all need one every once in a while. It’s a different story when you have no choice but to expect help. I’ve grown up hearing that there were inevitably going to be things that I couldn’t do or achieve because of the way I am. It’s hard to hear, definitely, but I have always known this would be the case.
I feel indebted to my family for the sacrifices they had to make when times were tough. We needed help, but it was hard to come by then because my condition was so unstable. We had to make the best of a very bad situation and we pulled through together. I realise what they have had to give up for me and what they continue to give up. Don’t I have an obligation to do whatever I could to repay them, to make them see their efforts weren’t wasted? Definitely sounds a little crazy, right? No parent would want their child to feel like this. Yet, I do.
Over the years, I have attached a lot of these inadequacies and insecurities to how I was performing at school. It seemed the only place where I could really do something for myself, my place to shine. This definitely fuelled my drive and motivation for a long time, but it’s too much for a young person to bear.
I am moving into my third year of university and I have exceeded a lot of the expectations others had of me, especially those I had of myself. But the journey wasn’t easy and not without its bumps. In all honesty, I didn’t think I would even be here two years down the line, and I thank my lucky stars that I did come.
I took a massive hit with my A Levels a few years ago, something that I never thought I would be writing about, especially not in this particular way. Even today, the thought of how that day panned out brings tears to my eyes. I was once again inadequate, helpless, useless in that moment … My perfect record was blotted. Could I not even do one thing right?
I was struggling for a long time back then, but I just didn’t have the words to express what I was going through. Surely it was just exam nerves. I was working myself to the ground, but it was all fine if I just got what I wanted. Deep down, I was screaming for someone to notice that I was really not doing well, but I couldn’t disappoint. I just had to soldier on, despite the relentless negative thoughts. It also didn’t help that I underwent a small surgery to remove a gastrostomy feeding tube halfway through the year, but like everything else, I just had to move on. There were more important things at hand.
As you may have guessed, things didn’t turn out well. I worked hard, yes, but I was far from rewarded for trying. I already had my university place confirmed before I took my exams, so what was I really afraid of? I had a total of ten exams and the number of times I broke down during these exams is shocking. I was very close to not going to university at all. If I couldn’t even handle A Levels, it felt like a no-brainer that university would be even harder.
But here I am. You might be wondering why I am still writing about my A Levels so many years later. The truth is that I haven’t stopped thinking about that day in the last two years I’ve been at university. I’m still hounded by the fear that I will fail at the last moment in anything I might do. I didn't really earn my place and I often still feel like I don’t belong in the place that should have felt like a second home.
Of course, this isn’t remotely the case, even though I’ve tried to deny it numerous times! I’ve thrived academically at uni better than anyone would have guessed. It’s crazy how things work out in the end. If the shoe fits …
Anyway, I think it is time I end this post, see you for the next one.
Keep reading and supporting!