School was always an iffy subject for me. I was sick a lot and missed on average thirty days a year, from first to sixth year. I was passionate about some subjects like Religion and my languages; Irish, German and Spanish.
The mock exams were not that bad. Then came the orals. I had three to do and just my luck I had a throat infection. I muddled through. The leaving cert itself was kind of a blur. I got through each exam and put it behind me, until results day. Walking up to the school, my stomach turns. This is it.
I’m greeted by fellow students with a head nod and a kind of half smile. Some students look happy, some sit down shaking their head, looking at this piece of paper again and again, hoping it would change. I get my envelope from a teacher. This is actually it. Everything can change with this envelope. I don’t open it.
I slip away from prying eyes and get outside. I have missed calls from my family. I finally answer the phone and open the envelope walking down the road. A quick glance and I don’t see any F’s. Phew.
I add up the points. Not enough. I applied for Psychology and Philosophy. I was short 30 points. The next few days I pretend like I’m okay but then the question burns, ‘What am I going to do with my life?’’ It was tough to hear all of my friends planning college life. This was such an exciting part of their lives and I was just watching from the side.
I typed up my CV and sent it to anyone who was hiring. I got a few interviews with retail shops but they never amounted to anything. Everyone was starting college and going out on ‘Fresher’s Week’. I was sitting at home worrying. I got a call to come into a cafe for a trial. I was to clean dishes off tables. It was so busy, I was in a fluster. Somehow, I got told that I got the job. I now worked full time, it was tiresome. This was my first job. I cried every day for the first two weeks. It was scary to be thrown into the deep end having had no experience. But I kept going.
After a few months of work, I got a promotion to be on the counter serving the customers. I was taught how to make barista coffees. I started training new employees and being trusted like this validated me. I soon felt confident and even proud of the fact that I didn’t get into college. I love food and people so in a way I was doing what I wanted. You get close to your regular customers and find yourself really caring about them. I worked there for two years and then wanted more responsibility.
I found somewhere that was looking for a barista as I had become passionate about coffee and the art of making it. I quickly progressed to being a supervisor. I trained the new barista. It was so rewarding being trusted with this. I had a gained a lot of experience learning how to work under the pressures of a busy lunch time and with the demands of the customers.
I listened to my friends complaining about assignments they had to do. I saw how worn out they were from long commutes and the unreliability of public transport. They will get their degrees and it will all be worth it for them but I don’t envy them anymore. I loved my job and I got to make people smile and I got to smile with them, everyday. Yes there are tough times and long hours sometimes and you get those customers that just make you cry. That’s life. I feel a lot more prepared for ‘the big bad world’ as I’ve had the experience with the public every day.
I was told in school that college was the ‘proper’ way to become successful. I think this can be damaging to people. If you don’t get into college, DO NOT PANIC. I believe that everything happens for a reason and not getting into college was the best thing for me. When and if I choose to study, I can, on my terms. As Einstein says; ‘’Everybody is a genius, but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will spend its whole life believing that it is stupid.’’ It’s your life, do things your way. Sometimes the ‘bad’ things turn out to be blessings in disguise.