Thinking about today’s subject, it didn’t take me long to come up with an answer. So, I feel I can go straight in to this one without too much forethought…
Day 3 – Something You Have To Forgive Yourself For
I can’t remember whether or not I’ve mentioned this in any of my previous posts (if I have, it’s in one of the earliest) but, back in 2003, I dropped out of my A-Levels only a few months before the A2 exams.
I seemed to get through the AS (Year 12) portion okay and almost enjoyed my time in school. Having a more ‘flexible’ time-table with regular free periods certainly helped, as did the relief of having completed my GCSEs. A friend, during one lunchtime, commented on how I had ‘changed’. Apparently, I was ‘cool’. He wanted to know my ‘secret’ and whether or not I meditated… I don’t know what it was! But, generally, in all of my classes (related to either art or DT), people seemed to be very warm and friendly towards me, even those who I’d never even so much as said ‘hello’ to before.
Something changed over that summer and I’m still not sure what. I was working full-time in my first job but, I don’t think that was it. I went back to school and, from that first day in September, my mood was on the decline.
I’d already dropped one of my AS subjects leaving me with just two (not ideal, I know). It all started to become serious when I started skipping art lessons. This was partly because of a fear I always had for my teacher but, although the class was full of kind, creative people, I didn’t really have a friend of my own (two had dropped out after the AS). I felt very alone and also intimidated by the ingenuity of work that others were able to produce. It was as if they were recreating their own dreams and imagination directly on to sheets of paper and through other media… I was too often staring at a blank page, unable to simply ‘create’.
This bad habit then caught on to my DT Graphics class. My absence was noted in both cases and, initially, I could cough up some excuse about being ill. The odd lesson soon became days, where I would have little besides back-to-back blocks of free periods. There was one guy in my graphics class who would constantly dig at me. Nobody liked him but, they all laughed. I never understood that and, I guess, began to question whether or not these people (who I’d not bothered with before clinging-on in Year 12) were actually my friends…
Both of my parents accepted that I would often walk home from school, all of the three-miles, on days where I would have a free periods after lunch and decided to leave early (even though, we weren’t actually allowed to do this in Year 12…). Late starts followed in Year 13 but, I didn’t always make it all the way. It wasn’t as though fear set in along the way; I’d planned the truancy in advance. Sometimes, I’d walk half of the distance (country lanes) before turning around or taking a detour. On a rare occasion, I’d see my dad’s van still sat on the drive, which would mean a U-turn and having to ‘hang out’ in a field or near the woods, sometimes sat on a stile or just wondering around… I can even remember doing this in the pouring rain. I’d don my dark green waterproofs, insisting to my dad that I would be okay for the next forty-five minutes and that I didn’t need a lift. Some of my earlier driving lessons were arranged with meetings in a near-by car park and I can recall getting to the car with soaking wet trousers and muddy ankles, having just walked all the way in from home.
Eventually, word got around and, some time after Christmas, the Head of Sixth Form bought this to my attention by telephone… Ironically, I was upstairs in bed when the phone rang. This was still several months after it all started. It had been happening for so long that I honestly thought my ‘secret life’ was safe. My art teacher’s suggestion was to rectify the problem with ‘a series of after-school detentions’… Yep, one major flaw that if I’m not even attending school in the first place!!
Despite discussions with both art teachers, I dropped the subject and got it all signed off. I was left with the one other graphics class but, my routine only worsened and I was also struggling with the hidden ‘guilt’ and lies when work colleagues asked about my pending exams… My DT teacher tried very hard, even making personal phone calls to my home in the evenings. I eventually dropped my final subject only one-month before the A2 exams. My coursework was incomplete but, that didn’t seem to matter; I could’ve applied for help. I do regret not saying goodbye to him as he left to live a new life in France that same year. We always had a good relationship.
There’s a lot to take in there and I believe that a lot of my suffering in these times was due to anxieties that I wasn’t fully aware of. I also believe that the realisation of everything played it’s part. After many years of school, I was having to step out in to the real world, still lacking any direction or certainty as to what I was going to do. My last year at school was always that. I couldn’t see it as an opportunity to explore a free world, reach out and grow in to something new. I was even assigned to a kind of counsellor and she was always very positive and supportive but, sadly, I let everyone down.
I have always regretted dropping out of my A-Levels since. Even before that, I knew that my decisions to select three creative subjects wasn’t my smartest move. I should’ve gone for English, but I feared the oral presentations. If my art teacher wasn’t involved in this subject as well then, I would’ve considered photography.
I’ve always looked back on these events with a negative view. ‘I should’ve done things differently‘; ‘I should’ve been stronger‘, ‘I let people down‘ etc. Today, I’d like to try and forgive myself for all of this.
Not one of us on this planet is perfect. We can all learn from our mistakes. Life keeps on moving forwards and we’ve got to try and keep looking in that direction. People might’ve been disappointed but they do not hate me. They all tried because they are people who care. Dwelling on the thoughts will not change what has already happened. Now, is the time for improvement!
Hmmmm… I don’t feel like I’ve forgiven myself just yet. Have I done it right? Maybe it takes time to set in?