By Abeer Saqib
At the age of 14 when we first step into the real world, a world where one needs to constantly work hard to stay on top, a world where you realize the weight of your choices and a world where you have to jump over your hurdles alone, the first entity standing there to greet you are your O Levels. These 2-3 years are crucial for your future because this is the time you truly adventure into the depths of yourself, when you feel lost because you’re travelling to a destination unknown, these are the years when you begin to shape into the person you were destined to be.
The first significant choice you make is about the subjects you have to take for the upcoming years, this may not be the final destination for your career, but this is the time when you begin to explore your capabilities and when you formulate your opinions about your likes and dislikes; when you begin to decide what you have to do with your life. Then soon, within a blink of an eye, you find yourself sitting in an examination hall, similar to the O.W.L examination hall you once saw in Harry potter but just to find out that these exams are probably the most important exams you have ever taken in your life up till now and they are the first step to the ladder of success you have to climb.
So just like this, the first couple of trial years of your real life come to an end… oh but only if it were that simple!
The reality behind all of this is way more complicated, the struggle a student has to go through to pass these years is immense, from pretending to understand the complex math formulae, to scribbling notes in your doodle-journal during chemistry or sociology. From desperately stopping yourself from falling asleep during the boring language lessons to staying up late at night studying for your CIEs. From making many new friends, to breaking ties with the snakes you used to call friends, from thinking of 999 plans to agitate the teacher, to trying to stay away from detention. From freaking out over getting into the student council, to wishing you never applied for that position. In between this chaos of trying to juggle your grades, extra-curricular, and your mood swings and emotions, you realize a bit too quickly that you’ve grown up. You realize that you’re no longer the carefree child who would pretend to play ‘escape the lava’. But instead, you realize that now, when you feel like everything is genuinely sinking in the sea, you are the only one who can save it and it doesn’t matter if you’re afraid of swimming, you somehow learn to swim along the way amidst the frenzy of flailing your arms and legs.
So now, when we have to stand up in the balustrade for every single mistake we do, and when we are critically analyzed for every action we do, we, O Level students, realize that these are the dangers of growing up we were warned about and we realize the amid the laughing fits and sleepless nights, we had somehow begun our life.