Thursday, 20 November 2014

The Return of The Menace

Fast, sharp and cool. The rate at which it arrived was too much to process, let alone embrace, when I became aware of its impending arrival, whilst its sharpness - throwing my alerted senses into jeopardy - was much more a bit astonishing and the temperature that chilled me to the bone was unlike what I'd ever felt before. Needless to say, my emotions have been tossed into the air more than a batch of pancakes on Shrove Tuesday - finding my footing on Planet Earth is a main priority at the moment.

After all, are we not unlike our usual selves when we begrudgingly face a return to the menace, which twists our typical adolescent scowls into a glare that would chill the most heartless? For some of us, we turn into the sulkiest brats whenever forced to return to the weekend chores that we spend all week not thinking about, then cannot stop going over as soon as Saturday morning comes. When found in such situations, it amazes me how we swap from our typical happy attitudes to a persona that not even a drama queen would recognize - or we sink into a misery so deep that only we can save ourselves from drowning in such a glorious mess.

Although they mostly hover in the background, the menace's existence is difficult to forget about entirely, which justifies why we detest it with a capital D. However, I face a menace that must be confronted five days a week: school.

A monster for whom countless teenagers reserve a great hatred, school does not always treat you like a reliable friend, sometimes betraying your trust or causing an all-mighty blow to your confidence. If you're having a bad day, very little can prevent you from living through your sadness in five hour-long classes, juggling both the presence of classmates and schoolwork at the same time.

Yet the occasional bad day that everyone experiences from time to time is exactly what defines my time at school: it's the norm. As disappointing as it sounds, I've lost count over the many days that I've returned home feeling a thousand times worse than when I left seven hours before. Part of you chips away after the final bell of the day rings, signalling an end to an exhausting day complete with hassle. Though such experiences may help you develop a tougher and more over-cooked skin (as discovered when tucking into dry-as-a-desert meat in the canteen), a steelier persona doesn't ease the hardship that you have unwillingly endured. Whatever has happened and wherever you may, nothing can distract you from the hard-hitting truth that the menace is still present and as bothersome as ever.

With mixed feelings, a decision was made to stay off school on Monday and Tuesday this week due to numerous issues at my school, with an intention to bring about some form of action from the authorities involved. As all sleep-deprived teenagers would feel, I was elated about the prospect of having a decent lie-in until 9.30am (à la the much-looked forward to weekends) and not being obliged to remain glued to my seat in Form for fifteen minutes, which I've always perceived as a waste of precious learning time (that, if it did not exist, would enable the pupils to finish school early!).

Fifteen minutes after I got out of bed, my elation steadily died down into a blank emptiness, which was then replaced with an ache. Despite the overwhelming possibility that more trouble could occur, I wanted to be at school, entertained by the lessons and even smirking in spite of myself when the class jokester unveiled his inner Dalai Lama. Even though I sort of knew what would be covered in my lessons, working from home - which, what with few distractions, no rowdy pupils or ice-cold/boiling hot classrooms, was the ideal learning environment - wasn't entirely the same because I didn't have the actual work on hand. Plus, it didn't take long until panic entered the equation over whether I would be left behind or if I was doing enough work. As distracting as my school is, I have developed an ability to somewhat drown out my surroundings and focus on the work: without my books or lesson plans, how could I lose myself in thoughts regarding the reason for which I was staying at home?

Bearing these fears in mind, I came to a conclusion on Tuesday evening that, instead of waiting another day to see whether things would improve in my absence, I would witness them with my own eyes by returning to school. Though plenty of encouragement from my parents was required to influence my decision, my eagerness to return to lessons was far too great to ignore: another lie-in may have been lost because of it, but I would have missed on much more had I stayed at home for one more day.

As I prepare to attend the mother of all days - the 'chip-tastic' Fridays - I may be settling back in an undisrupted routine, though that comfort is somewhat ill at ease. The menace might be the very last thing that I would consider thinking about whilst solving an Algebraic equation, but it immediately returns to the furore of my mind once the final question has been completed and the moment has come to go home. Like a stalker, I'm followed to the front door by the menace, whose invisible disguise may not been seen by the naked eye, yet can always be sensed. The front door is locked, but the menace has gained entry in what I call my safe haven, the one place where I always feel secure - how can I fall into the arms of safety if plagued by such a cruel demon? The menace terrorizes me whatever time of the day, wherever I am and however I'm spending my time: not even two days off at the week makes a significant difference.

Like I learnt long ago, standing tall behind a shield is the only way that I protect myself from the menace; otherwise, I would never enjoy a moment of pure, unadulterated happiness. Keeping strong is easier said than done, but it provides a strength - both of the physical and psychological kind - that blocks you from being driven insane from a highly negative force of energy. Finding and eventually creating your shield takes time yet, once you hold it in front of you, you only realize that it is worth the wait. To this day, I sometimes lose my guard - along with the grip on my shield - but it is a thing that becomes easier to hold onto as time passes.

The menace may be ultra-fast, as sharp as a needle and cold like a heart of steel but, whatever happens, I know better than to let it get to me. A menace can only possess a power so great - as if I will allow it to gain even more!

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