Saturday, 3 January 2015

Accepting the End of the Holidays

As the days get nearer towards my imminent return to school next Tuesday, I find myself trapped between a cycle of excitement, emptiness and sadness. Often I keep wondering whether I've fallen into a washing machine and am being taken for a wild spin because the world hasn't stopped racing - or at least slowing to a less queasy pace - for several days. The holidays that only began two weeks ago are no longer as endless as they initially seemed: a bubble protecting me from the harshness of reality is gradually bursting, anticipating the moment when it will eventually pop on Tuesday morning when I wake up to my first of the many days at school. 

Life continues, as does the termly cycle of school. It is only when I have a break - either at half-term or if I'm forced to take a day off during term time due to illness - that it dawns on me how exhausting and exhilarating school is: a thrilling package rolled into one. Like a Subway sandwich, school contains its main filling - lessons - but includes its toppings and sauces, such as friendships, activities and moments that you won't forget years after your school days are over. But, like all things, humans are prone to throwing their hands into the air (or, if you copy my behaviour, throw a diva-style tantrum) and becoming frustrated when the fun (and the sheer hell of challenging work) gets too hot to handle - a scenario that every teenager wishes to avoid like the Cbeebies TV channel. 

Given the choice, I doubt that many people would want to work under pressure because it often causes more problems than it is truly worth: not only does it act as a barrier to achieving happiness, stress also has a negative effect on your health (and causes premature wrinkles - eek!) which, despite my passion for exam success, I don't believe is worthy of experiencing for the sake of keeping your head above water in an assessment. When you reach the last few years of your education, it is almost certain that stress - the child of pressure - will target you like a loaded gun when you are bombarded with speeches on how success is so important at this crucial stage in your life. 

Although we have come a far way since being born, we nonetheless have a long path ahead of us; life is only beginning when we are teenagers, so it is extremely intimidating to live up to the image of a successful being when we have little knowledge of what that is. 

Can you really be surprised that I cherish my time off school when I'm away from an environment that is heavily focused on target grades (which a computer generates), tests and unrealistic mocks - that are sat before you've even covered every aspect of the syllabus? Going back a year might prove lucky at the moment because, upon my return next week, I won't be sitting in an exam hall and having numerous mock exams, but my turn will come in a year's time - before the real menace is encountered several months later. 

If 2014 flew past so quickly, why would this year be an exception? This will mean that my exams will be upon me before I can even bat an eyelid - a terrifying thought. Yet, strange it may sound, but a thrill rushes through me at the thought of sitting my exams because, instead of spending months dreading them, I'll be getting through them and reaching the other side. I will no longer be a pupil working towards my GCSEs: my status will change to a former GCSE student who is about to embark on her A-Levels. When my A-Levels are finally in sight, I will feel like I'm finally catching a glimpse of what I've spent the past few years working towards - another step will be taken towards the working world, where my true passion, journalism, awaits. The time before then will be all about work but, as I've realised recently, it will only be so if I let it go that way. This year, I'm determined to discover a stronger sense of fun that will keep me going during term time: where is the fun in only coming to life during half term and holidays? 

In the meantime, I will squeeze all that I can out of tomorrow and Monday before dragging myself (who stumbles and moans like a zombie at five thirty in the morning) out of bed on Tuesday and starting the first day of a continuous cycle until mid-February. Luckily, my birthday - the super sweet sixteenth! - falls on a Sunday, so I won't have to contend with getting up early and celebrating my birthday on the same day; I would just die of horror if I had to go to school on my 16th! I spent several hours in a massive shopping centre this afternoon and picked up some cool Spring-perfect jumpers in H&M (undoubtedly the best shop that I'll ever go into - until I've saved enough money to afford Dior's entire collection), along with a mint green nail polish in The Body Shop, a CD and foreign film in HMV. I'll finally be going to the cinema to see the latest Hunger Games film on Monday, so I won't be forced to wait until it's released on DVD - as if I could wait much longer to see it!

To all pupils, just savour every moment that you have of this weekend before your requirement to go to school is made compulsory once again next week. For those returning on Monday, how I pity you... One day off makes a week seem less scary, so I'm grateful for having that at my school. Though I doubt that it will become a famous catchphrase in years to come, Happy Weekend (or the second half of it)!

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