Absence of Presence

I don’t know how long it’s been bothering me, but for a while now I’ve had this nagging thought in the back of my mind that I’ve finally been able to form into words.

As I mentioned in my post-exam update a few days ago, the past month or so has been really tough for me in terms of my personal life. This year, I’ve been really trying to improve my mental health and build up my self-esteem, which I identified as a cause of my unhappiness. I feel like I did actually, to an extent, make some progress towards feeling better, however the academic and emotional challenges that exam season posed have caused me to experience some really low lows, worse than ever before. 

Since then, I haven’t been able to shift this feeling that I’m not really living my own life. It sounds strange, and I’m only just getting my head round it after some deep thought over the past few days, but I’ve realised that I’m really struggling to live in the present. I don’t know how long this has been going on for, maybe years. I find myself unable to stop dwelling on past events, unable to move on and find closure. In addition, I keep worrying about the future – what if I keep encountering the same bad experiences throughout my life? What if I am the problem?

I tell myself that one day I will have a group of friends, one day I will find ‘my people’, one day I will have a job and not feel like a failure, one day I will be confident, one day I will be open about my sexuality, one day I will be in a relationship. But this neverending cycle is stopping me from living in the present. I feel like I am a vessel, carrying my past with me and weighed down by worries and hopes for the future. But what is left for me in the present? The past will stay with me forever, whilst the future will forever be unknown, but how can I live in the present when it’s duration and existence is so fleeting? Why can’t today be that “one day” where I am living my life to the fullest?

I feel like my past and future selves are in constant battle with themselves. I’m stuck. I can’t move forward if I can’t leave the past behind. Life is flashing past too quickly and too slowly all at once.

When I look at my friends, they’re all doing things with their life: working, going out with friends, learning to drive, in relationship. It’s hard not to feel like a failure in such a peer-pressured environment. I feel like because I’m not doing these things that everyone else is doing, I shouldn’t be enjoying my life, because I have ‘nothing’ to enjoy and my perception of happiness has become tainted by the lives of my friends who have all the things I mentioned above to define their happiness, purpose and successes in life. I don’t want to think like this, though, this isn’t me. I am not materialistic, not usually. I don’t need objects or symbols of status to bring me happiness, but I’ve become so preoccupied with the lives of others that I’ve forgotten what really makes me happy. 

Along the way, I’ve somehow lost myself, which I promised I wouldn’t do. I don’t want to live the rest of my life just scraping through, never feeling a connection to the present. I want to be me, and be happy being me. I want to feel like I’m living my own life, instead of being caught up in that of others. Right now, I’m returning to my identity as a ‘lost teen’. I really hope somehow I can find myself again, before I waste my youth wishing for something better. Wishing won’t get me anywhere – I’ve got to start taking action and get back in control of my life. I don’t know how, but I’ve got to try.

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The A Level Days Are Over!!

Hey! Here I am, re-emerging from the depths of exam woes to tell you that I am DONE with Sixth Form! I had my last exam yesterday morning. The relief hasn’t quite sunk in yet, but I thought I’d give you all a little update (*cough cough* RANT) about how I found this exam season.

This exam season has without doubt been the hardest exam season ever. Of course, I knew A Levels were going to be hard but these exams really did push me to breaking point. Unfortunately, I have had a lot of stuff going on in my personal life throughout exams, which has been inconvenient to say the least. It really has been a struggle just to motivate myself to study or even turn up to exams because to be honest they felt insignificant whilst it felt like my life was crumbling around me. I do feel like this has affected by exam performance (I mean, I turned up to history Tuesday morning after having a massive breakdown at 1am so y’know) and honestly, I am a bit disappointed with myself, because I’ve worked so hard over these past two years and I feel like I majorly underperformed in some exams, however I know that most of the things that have been going on are outside of my control so I shouldn’t be to hard on myself. Anyway, I thought I’d do a little breakdown of how each of my subjects went, if anyone is interested, probably more for self-reflection on results day so I can see if the exams went as badly as I thought!
Geography

Argh geography! I’ve probably ranted about geography on here before. It’s been the subject I’ve struggled the most with during A Levels I think. There’s just so much content??? Everyone says geography is just colouring in maps but in reality learning about the world involves aspects of several different subjects, like biology, politics, history, maths etc. You need so many skills to do geography and questions range from statistical tests to long essays to analysing English language in one paper (I’m looking at you, human geog paper…why did we have to analyse the negative tone of a blog post!??). I feel like I never really mastered exam technique for geography, some of the questions are so vague you have no idea what the examiner wants from you. 

Paper 1 (physical geography) was probably my best paper, although at the time I thought it went badly because I did 40 marks worth of questions in 15 minutes because I was running out of time. The following papers however, were much MUCH worse. Paper 2 (human geography) was just??? I can’t even explain. Was it even geography?? Edexcel what WERE you thinking?? Why are we analysing postage stamps and the case study of Hull (which wasn’t even on the spec)? Also (I could have a whole rant about this but I’ll spare you the misery) my college really messed up with exam invigilators. I mean, they only had enough for one per exam, which is against the rules anyway, so in my Paper 2 exams our invigilator had to make two phone calls IN THE EXAM HALL to ask for extra paper and because someone needed escorting to the toilet. I was so annoyed I couldn’t concentrate and shortly after that, I asked for extra paper and the invigilator gave me a paper someone had already written in for a different subject?! It was A Mess™. But at least everyone found it hard so it wasn’t entirely my fault that I felt like I did badly. Paper 3, on the otherhand, that was entirely my fault. I was so tired and not in the right mindset to be sitting an exam. This paper is synoptic so it aims to cover all of the compulsory units from the other two papers. The actual case study that the resource booklet focused on was decent and I knew some stuff about it, and the questions weren’t awful, but my exam technique just went out the window and I felt like everything I wrote was a load of waffle. Oh well. So, I don’t think I’ve done as well in geography as I was hoping, which is frustrating.
History

History has always been the subject that I just sort of seem to be able to do without spending hours and hours on it. I was a bit nervous about the exams because I hadn’t revised for them as much as geography (and look what use that was. Ha!) but thankfully Edexcel were kind to us and gave us three really nice papers!!!!!! In total, I wrote 8 essays – 3 on the transformation of Britain’s democracy in the 20th century, 2 on USA boom, bust and recovery 1920-1955 and 3 on the 16th-17th century witchcraze.

Most of the questions which came up I’d actually seen before (or seen a version of) in the example questions in text books and revision guides (because we don’t have past papers), so that was great! In the Britain paper, we had a source essay on Thatcher’s economic policy which was something I was really confident on so hopefully that went well. And in the USA paper, the source question was on the KKK and was almost identical to one I had written and sent to my teacher a few days before!! And one of the sources was exactly the same!! So luck was definitely on my side for that exam. The witchcraft exam surprisingly went well too, even though it was my least favourite topic and I barely had any sleep before hand. 
French

The first exam I did this year was my French speaking, over a month ago now! I can’t remember exactly how it went to be honest. It consisted of two parts – talking about 1 of 12 topics we studied over the past two years (I had the choice of family or diverse society so went with the latter) and then our individual research presentation, which I can’t really describe other than being a spoken version of coursework?? I had to do a lot of research for my chosen topic – the Calais jungle. Both elements of the exam are followed by a spontaneous discussion and in total it lasted around 20 minutes I think?? I feel like the research project definitely went better than the card on diverse society, I almost had too much to say about Calais and my teacher had to cut me off! But overall I think it was okay?? I managed to use complex phrases and idioms, but whether my grammar was accurate is another question!

My other two French exams I did this week – paper 1 on Monday and paper 2 today. Paper 1 was reading, writing, listening and translation and makes up 50% of my grade. It was my longest exam and definitely the most tiring – foreign languages take so much concentration and effort! After I came out, I realised I made a few stupid mistakes, which is inevitable I guess. I can’t really tell how well I’ve done though, because a lot of the questions seemed as if they were trying to catch me out, particularly multiple choice. It wasn’t the hardest paper I’ve done, but it wasn’t the easiest either. Who knows!

Paper 2 this morning was an essay on the book and film we study – Un Sac de Billes and La Haine. I did a mock for this two weeks ago, and it went really badly, mainly because I chose the wrong question (it appeared easier at first but turns out I had no ideas after I started writing it oops) so I was so stressed about this exam. However I think it went okay?? I mean, my film easy was definitely worse than my book essay, which is sort of normal for me anyway, but I do feel like I didn’t mess up the film essay as badly as in the mock, my ideas were just a bit wishy-washy. I tried really hard to use complex phrases and grammar and a variety of vocab, so hopefully that paid off! I kind of wish I could have kept that paper because I was so happy with my Un Sac de Billes essay (the book) lol.

Overall, I’m not really sure how French went. I really, really wanted to get an A in French because it is my favourite subject and I’m going to be carrying it on at uni. Also I’ve been getting A’s all year so I hope I haven’t let myself down at the last hurdle with a load of silly mistakes! I guess only time will tell, but I am slightly more hopeful about French than geography.

So, that’s how my exams went. I had 9 in total, and although that seems like not many compared to GCSEs, most of them were over 2 hours long so I was absolutely shattered after finishing each exam. I am proud that I scraped through exams, with everything else going on, and I’ll just have to see what happens on results day. I know my place at uni is secured, unless I fail everything, so that’s some comfort at least!

I would just like to say to anyone that has been taking exams these past few weeks – or is not quite finished yet – I am so proud of you and you should be too! 

That’s all from me for now, I’ve got to sort through all my A Level notes and mounds of text books and paper, although I don’t think I can bring myself to recycle to years of hard work, stress and tears just yet!

Hopefully I’ll be back again soon with some more exciting posts now it’s summer. 🙂

(Featured photo is of the yellow roses in my garden which have been bringing me happiness throughout exams – THEY’RE SO PRETTY)