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The Leaving Cert does not define you.

Remember that on Wednesday.

Things you don't get CAO points for.

I managed to leave school not knowing huge amounts of things about myself. I waited for a piece of paper to tell me if I was good enough in life. I had spent years studying a lot of random facts and a lot of them I have never EVER used in life. My being particularly useless at maths in school hasn't held me back in the slightest.

At the time however I existed in a space that elevated your status in life if you were good at higher level maths. (It hasn't changed hugely). Apart from the yearly dream around the time of the Leaving Cert , where I'm repeating higher level and I've forgotten to revise, I've survived the being crap at maths affliction relatively well.

I was happy to be measured in points. It didn't matter if I was good at sports, (I wasn't), If I was creative, if I was kind, if I was a loyal friend, if I was innovative, resilient, a good driver, a good typist, punctual, a good communicator. If I could make things, fix things, solve problems, play an instrument, sing,paint, decorate, garden , sew or cook. If I could lock myself away in a room and study intently things that I didn't always believe in, then I would be ready for life.

If I wasn't great at doing that, I came away feeling quite inadequate.

I left school thinking I was crappy enough at languages. I realise now that I'm not and that I not only enjoy learning new languages, but I'm not too bad at it either. So tip for any of you out there who do really badly in a language in the Leaving Cert. It still doesn't mean you are bad at them. It means you couldn't find the ability or the motivation to sit down and learn facts about grammar and tenses, about a language you had never seen in action that's used in a country that you have never visited.

Imagine that you get to walk down Las Ramblas in Barcelona and that you are staying in a beautiful apartment, the weather is beautiful , the smell of food coming from the street markets and the noise of Spanish music in the background. You stop to sip a refreshing drink and you look at the street signs around you. You hear people babble around you and you yearn to know what they are saying and what all the signs mean. You are told that you can get tickets to a match in the nou camp if you can put together two sentences in Spanish to ask for them. Now that's how you learn a language. You experience it, you live it. You can still do that regardless of how the Spanish exam went.

I have a strange belief about Education. I believe now that we don't label ourselves about our ability to do stuff. We can learn a bit of coding and not be good at maths. We can design an image and not be a graphic designer. We can write an article and not be a journalist. We can give an inspiring talk, without anyone ever teaching us how to do it. We can learn to run and not be sporty. We can learn whatever we want to, we don't have to be an expert.

What we can't learn so easily and what life just makes us learn the hard way, are the following things.

  1. How to deal with disappointment. I have never met anyone yet who embraces heartbreak and rejection with utter ease and happiness. These are things that will happen and you will have to devise a way to cope. Whatever works for you.
  2. You have to give yourself the permission to try things and fail. You will not succeed in life until you get comfortable failing at things. Unfortunately in every failure there is a little lesson to be learned. A lesson that tells you, next time be more prepared, next time, be tougher, next time don't be complacent, next time, try harder.
  3. All progress is outside your comfort zone. Anything I have ever succeeded at, has been by stepping outside of where I feel comfortable. It has involved putting myself out there.Trying new things, learning new skills, pitching for things when I've been terrified.Doing interviews for things I wasn't sure that I was good enough at.
  4. You might not have met your best friends for life yet. Yes you will be lucky to have close school friends and if you are really lucky, they are still the people you can reach out to with no explanation. You can just get in touch with them for no reason, with no agenda, just to say hi. However you have yet to meet tons of other people who are going to enrich your life and inspire, entertain and support you. It's all ahead of you. They also don't give a hoot what you got in your Leaving Cert.
  5. It's NEVER too late to learn new things. That means you could just dabble in subjects until you figure out what's most appealing to you. If you take up a course in college and discover you are not suited to it. It's not the end of the world either. (You will just feel like it is)
  6. Most "grown-ups" haven't figured it all out yet either. A lot of them are really unhappy because they didn't have the courage to leave jobs they hate. Sometimes its the courage, sometimes it's the choice. So enjoy the freedom to fail and dabble that you have right now.
  7. The people they warned you off in school, the messers, the comics, the risk takers, they will probably set up a hugely successful business that will baffle you and make you question the path you chose in life.
  8. You have the ability to come up with new ideas. You have the ability to create change in the world. You have the ability to make a difference. Just don't ask anyone else for that permission, you have to give it to yourself.
  9. Money won't buy you happiness. It  will however give you security. It will allow you to spend time doing things you enjoy in life and not worry about the bills. Take saving seriously and don't waste money on things that don't make you happy
  10. The world is your oyster. In some countries they have never even heard of the Leaving Cert. If you got a gazillion points in it , they don't care. The people you meet in the future will care, if you are kind to them. They will care about how you treat others around you. They will admire your sense of humour. They will admire your resilience ,creativity,  entrepreneurship, ability to parent, your treatment of your parents, your siblings, your community. I 

Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school. Albert Einstein
 

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