This time 20 years ago I waited anxiously outside the Mercy Convent in Tralee for my leaving cert results. It feels like yesterday, but at the time I had worked incredibly hard to prove a point!
Growing up in the 90's, my Secondary School experience was based on those who went through the system before me, I spent six years being convinced I would never go to college, that the best I could hope for was a job in a factory! The Career Guidance Councillor was in two words 'A Prick' and when you have to deal with that often enough - you will eventually start to believe it!
I will never forget the day I opened that envelope - looked at the piece of paper as my Gran (now 100 years of age) calls all results and thought - 'ha, I done what each and everyone of you told me I couldn't do - I got the results I said I would get - A's, B's and C's!'
I remember the Nuns coming over to see why I was grinning like a soft fool, why I was so ecstatic and going up the back of the school to my Nan's to ring home and break out the calculator!
When the CAO offers came out - I got my first choice of course, but decided to defer, one year lead to another, one job lead to another and a good few years passed. I held a job in Quinnsworth, cook and cleaner all rolled into one. Then in 1998, I packed that in and started working as a builder (yes you read that correctly)!
In 2008/09 I decided as the boom was going bust to retrain and took on an ECDL course, then a City & Guilds Course in IT, which lead me by complete accident back to the course I got out of my CAO results a few years earlier.
At the time it hadn't dawned on me that it was the Information Systems Management course I had received a place on way back in 1996. That course gave me more than an education - it gave me a bunch of lecturers I am still friends with, but most importantly, it provided me with an absolutely amazing Best Friend! If their was a challenge on offer, we knew it couldn't defeat either of us and is one of the reasons we both went on to achieve Masters Degrees.
On this day in 20 years time when you are looking back on the work you put into your getting your 'piece of paper' - remember the feeling of opening that envelope and take time to look back on how far you have come!
I was once you!I had a life plan - go to college, get a fancy job etc. That plan didn't exactly go the way I envisaged it, but I'm perfectly okay with that - why? If I had taken the place I was then offered, the girl that convinced me to go to college would have been in my ISM class instead of teaching me!
If I had went to college in 1996, IT was barely off the shelf, today it can't be kept on the shelf long enough it is in such demand!
If I had went to college in 1996, I wouldn't have had good fortune to meet the most amazing Best Friend I could have ever wish to have in this life! I wouldn't have had the courage to go from 1st year to 4th year without questioning the challenge ahead and most def' wouldn't have had the backbone to go from IT, Tralee to UCC to achieve a M.Sc in Interactive Media.
Your parents will kill me for this nugget - but if you are heading for a college in Sept' or off to get a job, just remember one thing!
Just because the world thinks you should do x, y or z doesn't mean you have to. Follow your own path, see where it leads you and most of all, life is incredibly short, so enjoy it as best you can!