On the day the wall came down
They threw the locks onto the ground
With glasses high, we raised a cry
For freedom had arrived!
– A Great Day For Freedom, Pink Floyd
And so it ended: not with a whimper, but a bang… or at least with a large degree of whooping, running around and tearing off of school ties. After eight days of exams (or, rather, two years preparing for the IB diploma), the stress and the wait was over, replaced with an overwhelming sense of jubilance and lightness. Somehow (but luckily!) throughout the final exam, I managed to displace excitement from my mind and even at the point we were told to put down our pens, nothing seemed extraordinary. It was just another exam, one of the fifteen we each had to sit. It was just another essay, one of countless I had written in the past couple of months. But as I went through each of the pages of my essay, numbering them and marking them with my candidate number (000794-018), it began to sink it- I realised that school was over and I had made it.
And so I ran down the stairs and outside (well, until the thought occurred to me it would be mighty unlucky for me to break both legs on the day I finished exams), probably singing something or else just grinning as I’ve never grinned before. I ripped off the tie I would never have to wear again and did a victory lap of the school oval (the term “lap” being used in its loosest sense).
I had imagined that moment ever since I started high school, and especially in the last couple of weeks. When I experienced the sense of relief and freedom at the end of my first set of exams in Year 9, I imagined how much better that feeling would be when the end of exams meant the end of schooling. When, last year, I saw my friends in the year above me come out from their final exams, I felt intensely jealous and pictured myself in their place. And finally the moment was there, unsurprising in hindsight, but quite unexpected at the time, as during the last week or so it felt like it would never come.
That feeling (labelled “diffusion of time” by Erikson– one of the many things I’ll never have to remember or write on again) peaked in the middle of the year. We were told that the middle of Year 12 was the most difficult part (even more so than exams) because all the major assessments were due in quick succession, as were language oral examinations and the such. The gloomy weather probably didn’t help either. At many points in the year, I would look at the “IB Year 12 Calendar”, look at all of the assessments and months still to come and despair. The end would never come, it seemed.
So the feeling was one of great discharge, of finally being unburdened of the stresses and requirements that accumulated throughout the two years of having done IB, especially in this year. It was a sense of freedom I remembered only distantly from the happiness of having come to the end of a school term in primary school, of having been given two weeks (or six, over the Christmas break) of holidays. Througout the IB, the workload had built up: even during the Christmas holidays of 2007-2008, I nonetheless spent many hours working and while relaxing, would still have the prospect of my assignments hanging over me. With each set of holidays, the amount of time allocated to study increased to the point where in the Term 3 holidays, I made a colour-coded study planner which had me studying for eight hours a day (anal much?). And suddenly, there was nothing. No assignments, no requirements, no study or pressure.
And I am liberated, with so many things to do, to which I can look forward. First on the agenda was a complete purging of my bedroom, moving anything and everything related to school out of my room and into the garage. The notes and handouts- on my table, in my folders, stacked in my wardrobe- filled two photocopy paper boxes and nearly gave me a hernia as I lifted them. And filling those boxes felt so very good, leafing through the countless sheets of paper as I laid them to rest. Flipping through what I was throwing away was a reminder both of what I had achieved and what I had endured– what I would never have to worry about again. Looking at my Extended Essay handbook, blank CAS sheets, various subject syllubi and assessment markbands made me even more happy and grateful; the physical weight of what I was throwing a way a reminder of my new sense of ligthness. The fact that I can actually see my table for the first time in months is an added bonus (also to my mother, who tolerated the general clutteredness and dustiness of the room while I could still play the “hard-at-work” card).
So… three months of freedom and what to do? It would be tempting to literally flop into a sedentary mode, watching television reruns and getting up only for Doritos or coffee. But it would be much more enjoyable and rewarding to finally take the oppurtunity to do all those things I had wanted to do throughout the year but couldn’t. So a return to blogging is on the cards, as is seeing some jazz and learning bass guitar and piano accordion. Finally, I will use the indian cookbook I got for my birthday. Finally, I will read the books piling up in my to-read list. Finally, I will take up bike riding again in an attempt to raise my fitness from a dangerous level.
Finally, I am free.