My nails are chewed down stubs. I’ve spent most of the night staring at the roof and most of the morning snapping at my family members. A part of me knows I’m overreacting but at the same time it’s hard not to be a little nervous

Because it’s the morning of January the 7th: The day of the release of the Matric results and at  the moment a small but determined voice is telling me to go back to bed, forget about education, university and pride and sleep on in ignorant bliss.

But, the thought of finally getting the results that I have worked and waited 12 years for overrides my nervousness and I leave to face the music.

When we get to the school, the atmosphere is absolutely electric; a curious mix of elation and terror that has everyone speaking at the tops of their voices. As I join the crowd, waiting to be let in to the school, I start thinking about my Matric year and everything that had brought me to this point of finally finishing

 My Matric experience was… well, unique to say the least.

I was initially due to graduate with the class of 2008. In fact, in October of that year, my Cass (continuous assessment) marks had been submitted, I had been to my valedictory, celebrated with the rest of class that evening and was really just waiting to jump the final hurdle: The exam itself.

Then, I got the shock of a lifetime. I was diagnosed with a serious illness and immediately swept up in a haze of medication and hospital visits that made it completely impossible to even think of finishing my exams.

So I entered into Matric Part 2: 2009.

I found it difficult, for a lot of my second year, to try and find my place. I had been a motivated student with an amazing but competitive group of friends the year before and had enjoyed getting into the spirit and craziness of the final year: its very intense and while doing it, you develop a sort of tunnel vision and learn to be thrive on good results, letting them build you up and give you confidence to work even harder: its the only way to cope with the pressure and I enjoyed the rush of doing well.

But after being thrown s so thoroughly and suddenly off track, I didn’t know how and where to slot back in. I didn’t have the same feeling toward my exams, I never would again. I was too physically and mentally exhausted to work up the energy and excitement for my studies that I had in 2008 but I still wanted to do as well as I would have.

So, for a lot of the year, I was a less than ideal student and probably came very close to letting the chance to get the marks I wanted slip me by.

Luckily though, after some comforting and very helpful words from some of my teachers, I forced myself to take the September “Mock examinations” seriously and found to my genuine surprise that my brain still worked, and pretty well.

After that, I really started working in earnest. I scheduled extra lessons to catch up (especially with the new work), worked through the holidays and wallpapered my room with Biology notes. In hindsight, I developed a different kind of self-discipline in my ‘2nd matric’ that I know will help me at university

Finally November arrived and I prepared to write my exams at last!

ID Books, exam numbers, calculators, jelly babies (for the sugar)…

every morning was a blur or checks and last minute revision (against all professional advice but let’s be honest, we all do it), every afternoon a chance to catch up on lost sleep and frantic revision. Then they were over, in an instant it seemed, and we all settled in for the loooong waiting period.

And now, the results at last.

 I get 6 A’s and 1 B and waste no time  joining in with the rest of  the room letting out every bit of anxiety, fear and hope we’ve been holding back all holiday; everyone was screaming and hugging and posing. Its absolutely impossible not be infected by the enthusiasm of in the room and I think even the teachers were getting caught up in it all. It’s just a shared feeling like no other and it was awesome

It’s only when I’m walking back to the car that the high starts fading a little and I begin to  get that slightly surreal feeling where you can’t believe something that’s taken so long is finally over.

In school, there is this sense or having to be somewhere, to do something, to sit, to work, to study, all according to a predetermined schedule. Then you finish and suddenly….

Nothing. No rules. No absolutes. There’s nothing except common sense (and occasionally, the law) to stop you doing anything and that sense of freedom is dizzying and exciting but…also a little terrifying.

Nevertheless, I can honestly say I am THRILLED to be finished with school at last and while the memories, friends and A’s J will be with me for life, I can’t wait to start the new chapter: For me, that’s UCT where I will be studying Human Bioscience.And after that? Who knows… I’ve learned to roll with the punches.

Thanks so much to all the teachers who showed enormous patience with me and offered never-ending guidance and help throughout all my years at Fish Hoek and before that, Bay Primary. A great and favourite teacher commented as I was leaving the school that I had made teachers seem pretty superfluous.

Which, while it made us both laugh, is completely untrue. I did a lot of my studying on my own this year but to say I couldn’t have done it without the support and fresh perspective of all my teachers is absolutely laughable and I am deeply deeply grateful to all of them.

To the class of 2009, I’ll say:

I hope your dreams take you to the corners of your smiles, to the highest of your hopes, to the windows of your opportunities, and to the most special places your heart has ever known.

Good luck everyone!