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Leaving school

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I have always been determined to do my leaving cert. I didn’t want to disappoint my parents or for people to think I was a failure. I know that I’m smart and that I can achieve great things. However, I had a pretty shit time in school, I hated it. In February of 2017 (during 6th year) I couldn’t put up with it anymore so after school I went to my locker, got my books and left for good. I felt somewhat at peace. When you are trying to study in a toxic environment it really does impact your self-esteem. I felt completely invisible in school, like I would never be good enough and never fit in. People have different opinions of school. Some people love school, others dread going in the morning.

After I left school, I could tell my parents were a little disappointed. They didn’t mention anything but at the same time they were happy I wasin’t in that school anymore.  I was thinking about my future and I thought, I’m not going to get anything without my leaving, my job prospects will all go down the train. I did a little bit of research. External candidate seemed to be the best solution. I told my parents about becoming an external candidate. The school allowed me to sit my exams in the school.

Well,in June I finished my leaving cert. Done and dusted. I am done school forever and this is a new chapter in my life. An article published in 2013 by the Irish examiner stated that 4300 kids drop out of school before fifth year. While the exact reason why those kids dropped out is unknown, it’s still an incredibly high number.

At the age of 18, I honestly haven’t a clue what the future holds or more specifically where I’m gonna be in 10 years time but I do know this, I did my leaving cert, I have the piece of paper to prove it. My piece of advice for any of you going through something similiar, don’t ever make anybody think you’re not good enough and don’t ever let anyone get in the way of what you want to do in life.

I would encourage anyone thinking of leaving school to:

  • Make a plan(what are you going to do every day?)
  • Do your leaving- I cannot stress this enough. You don’t need to get all honours just do your best and get it done and over with.
  • Talk to friends and family – talk to people about how you are feeling about school
  • Remember that some people don’t want to go to college and you don’t have to. College, apprenticeship etc, are all just future options if you wish to pursue them.
  • Explore your options( youthreach,college,PLC course, apprenticeship etc)

Go through all of these and make a list of what you want to do . Whatever option you decide to go with, remember, just do what makes you happy.

Panic attack in school

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Photo © 2010 J. Ronald Lee 

I distinctly remember a time when I was in school. A time I got my first bad panic attack in a public place. I was in 5th year. It was one of those days where the holidays were approaching so the teachers put on movies for the class to watch. There were several classrooms along the corridor.

A teacher decided that it would be a good idea to place all the SPHE classes together in the one room to watch a movie. The movie was School Of Rock. As Jack Black appeared on the screen, the other girls began to laugh. Sweets were passed around the room as everyone sampled the haribos and the mini chocolate bars.

I placed my hand into the bag and took out a sugery circular green sweet. The lights were turned off and the room was in darkness apart from the screen infront of us. The whole class were bunched together practically squashed but nobody seemed to care,only me.

I was trying to talk to the girl next to me as a method of distraction while the anxiety started to build up inside of me. I couldn’t think straight. I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I looked around the room. Everyone was glued to the screen . I was getting more and more fearful of what could happen in this moment. I had stomach butterflies and I was sitting so close to the people next to me that I couldn’t move.

I have to get of here. Get me out. I asked the girl next to me could she please move her chair aside. I got up and walked straight out of the classroom. Everyone stared. I walked briskly into the nearby bathroom. I was breathing heavily. I was trying to control my breathing. I took a few deep breaths. Breathe 1.2.3 . Breathe 1.2.3.
Then I started crying, hard. What just happened? Did I get a reaction to the sweet? Did I eat too much sugar yesterday? No, I just have claustrophobia. I can’t even get into an elevator and I guess the way everyone was bunched together combined with the darkroom triggered the panic attack.

I went up to the secretary’s office. She saw me crying and asked if I was ok. I said I was fine. I called my dad. He said he would come down to collect me. Before I could leave I had to go back and get my school bag. I walked back into the room. I told the teacher I wasin’t feeling well and I was going home. She looked kind of annoyed but I didn’t care, I was just after having a panic attack.

I went home where dad sat me down and made me a cup of tea. He asked me what had happened and I explained how I was feeling in the room. It was too stuffy,too warm,too claustrophobic. I couldn’t handle it and panicked.

That was a while back now but I still think of how proud I am of myself. I got up and walked out of that room without looking at anyone,without asking for permission because I was having a difficult time and I needed to figure it out,on my own. I realise now that I helped myself more than the teacher or anyone else in the room could.While it was a terrifying moment for me, I am delighted with how I managed it on my own.