Thursday, 28 May 2015

Exams

When you're slap bang in the middle of exams, its difficult to keep a level head. One minute you're shouting 'F*** YOU EXAMS, I DON'T NEED YOU ANYWAY!' in a fit of despair and the next, you're sobbing into your pillow about the inevitability of your failure. Well, that's how it was for me at least.

But the thing is, despite all the anxiety and emotion, it never truly occurred to me to start planning for the eventuality in which all my nightmares came true, the what if I don't actually do well in my exams scenario. Having done well consistently throughout school, I have to admit, I got a little cocky. And this cockiness led to a results day that came as a complete and utter shock to the system. Not a particularly nice shock either. But a shock that was well and truly needed. I didn't even do that badly, when I think about it, I got good grades. But, they weren't great. They were grades that made me need to reconsider the path I wanted to take in life. Anyway, blah blah woe is me... The moral of this sob story is that I really started to think about what I was going to do if the same thing happened again and exams results failed me (or vice versa - whatever). That was when I came to the realisation that WOW! Exams aren't everything! Crazy, who knew?!

I'm not sure if it's because, going to an all girls grammar school, I've been conditioned to believe that BAD GRADES = FAILURE AT LIFE or if it's just that I'd been surrounded by high achievers academically, but whatever it was, I'm surprised it took me so long to figure out that yes, exams are important, but they are not the be all and end all of life. It's extremely likely that what you aspire to do aged 15-18 will change anyway, so doing badly in your exams does not mean that you're throwing away your future, it just means that your future will be slightly different than initially thought. Okay, I admit, failing your exams may mean you're never going to become a world class surgeon, but it doesn't mean you can't go into a medical profession, just have a look. Plus, if you truly believe that being a world class surgeon is what you're supposed to do, then resit those exams until you get the grades you deserve. But whatever you decide, just remember that there are plenty different paths to take.In the end, the only person who will stop you from succeeding is yourself, by believing that you're not good enough. 

Which is complete and utter bull crap, if you ask me (which I know you didn't but, tough). You can move mountains if you put your mind to it. What really counts in life is determination, passion and an ability to pick yourself up again when everything seems to knock you down. In all honesty, I think exams are ridiculous. Testing an individual on their ability to regurgitate 1-2 years worth of information in an exam that lasts up to 3 hours, paying no heed to how that individual has worked up until that point, how that individual feels on the day or how that individual responds to the tense environment of exam conditions, well it's unfair. But unfortunately, or fortunately, I am not the Education Minister, and that is the way things are currently. Eventually measuring ability in schools will change, but for now, if you're doing exams, you just have to suck it up and give it your best. But if all does not go according to plan, don't let it kick you too hard. Remember that you are so much better than a sheet of paper can give you credit for, because knowing that only you can dictate which direction you choose to go is all you need to keep putting one foot in front of the other. 

So good luck in your exams! Whatever the outcome, I wish you all the best. As I love a good cheesy quote, I'll leave you with this:

"When one door closes, another door opens. But we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one that has opened for us." - Alexander Graham Bell

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Thursday, 7 May 2015

Blue Lagoon

As you may or may not already know, in April last year I had the fantastic opportunity to go to Iceland, which I wrote about here. As soon as we were through customs, we were taken by our guide from Discover the World to the Blue Lagoon, a stunning picture of dazzling blue nestled among the grey lava fields. The photo's that I took don't really do it justice, but I'll include them anyway.


Once we finally stopped gawping at the water and went into the building, we rushed off to the changing room. And boy oh boy were we in for a shock. Little did we know that the Icelandic are very particular about their pre-swimming routines. Everyone must shower without their swimming costumes beforehand and private cubicles are scarce. Not only are there pool police standing guard to ensure that this was the case, even the locals were particularly stern. We even had one woman, completely starkers, aggressively reminding us that 'you must take your bathing suits off!' It was enough to make me hysterical. It was an experience to say the least and almost liberating in a way, standing there naked with a load of unabashed women. Plus, they even provided free conditioner! The Blue Lagoon, not the women.


It's the most bizarre experience, standing outside wearing next to nothing in barely 5 degrees Celsius, and wading into hot water that is naturally heated by geothermal energy. The hours we spent swimming and relaxing in the water were some of the most peaceful and rejuvenating I've ever had. In some parts it was like stepping into a hot bath, except there were mountains in the background. There was a sauna, a hot waterfall and pots of natural silica face mask too. Absolute bliss. I would have stayed there all day if I could.

It was most definitely worth the money and I whole heartedly recommend going. Despite the changing room fiasco and the fact that it took several hair washes later to get my hair feeling remotely normal, at the Blue Lagoon, I had one of those moments when everything feels good with the world and that feeling lasted for a long time afterwards.

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