I’ve never been the most stable of people; I regularly go from happy smiles and rainbow-tinted perspectives of the world to confused tears and general misery quicker than even I can comprehend, and far quicker than I’m willing to acknowledge. The mix of school, family and generally keeping up appearances often gets on top of me, and loses me within its folds, its waves lapping over me, slowly pushing me further and further under until I’m no longer the key player in this twisted game. Despite its repetition, I only tend to notice this cycle when I’m at the peak of my misery; when I’m already drowning; when I’m already going to have to provide unattainable effort to shift it all from me.
Year after year, particularly when returning to school in a new academic year, I’ve wanted for nothing but silence, peace, and just a moment of care-free time in which I can just stop, switch off and blank out the world. Still, when this time comes around in the holidays, I don’t value it as much as I should, or as much as I would if it were to show itself to me at this precise moment, in fact. Although I neglect to realise this during holidays from the churning ocean of school, time and space is something I so desperately need and, yet, so tragically lack. Personally, I need time to keep my own mental health in check — to stop the demons, dark thoughts, negative days and self-hating thoughts building up until they fill more space than my mind can provide for them, let alone afford to give to them.
This year especially has hit me like a tsunami, and I merely wish I could tell you that that’s an exaggeration: it’s not. My disregard for all the words of students a year or more above me in their education, alerting me to the increase of work that Year 10 would bring with it was ridiculous, and is the one thing I regret about the summer. In some ways, I have a new-found respect for those of you in Year 11, Year 12, Year 13 or beyond, because honestly, fuck knows how you got through this year, and fuck knows how I’ll follow your lead. And all my cynical mind can produce from this is: “well, if this is Year 10, just imagine next year… and the year after that, and the year after that…”.
Every night this week, I’ve worked my arse off for school, and all afternoon yesterday, and all day today — literally. Finally, only now, I can stop and do something else that isn’t work, and that isn’t in preparation for a set of exams I will take in twenty-one months, the outcome of which will affect my entire life, however much THEY tell me that there is “always another path”. I’m only young once, after all, but I will spend these years slaving away because the government says I should. That is besides the point, I suppose.
All I’m asking for is silence. I want the house to be empty, my head to go quiet, my workload to shrink — even just temporarily — to a point where I can forget about it, and not feel that ever-present paranoia that I feel most strongly in bed at night, when I’m sure that I’ve forgotten to complete that essay, or forgotten to print that worksheet. Please, now, just make that pressure that is so intense, I physically feel it from time to time with increasing frequency, cease — just for five minutes. What I wouldn’t give for peace, even from my own phone, and from the people I love and trust. Sometimes, you just need a break; I guess that’s understandable, right?
If you too are going through either Year 10, or a time similar to that which I’ve described, I hope that I can tell you at least this: you are not alone. There are always others who understand how you feel, and who are going through everything that you are experiencing. Whilst that’s not always directly helpful, it’s comforting at the very least, and there’s something to be said for comfort when you’re drowning.