As I mentioned in my last, somewhat emotionally fuelled, post, I've taken quite a few knocks to my confidence recently. The biggest of these, without going into too much detail and turning this post in an elephantine whine-fest, were the results of my AS exams. And how they didn't go according to plan in the slightest.
For me, it was a nasty shock. Without sounding arrogant, I am what many people would call "a bright cookie" - I've not really achieved anything under an A grade in any area of academia for the past five or six years in my exams (even in Maths and the sciences, which was a wonderful surprise). My GCSE results were all A and A* grades, and I'd been doing well in my Lower Sixth year, I'd revised hard for the exams, done lots of extra work for practice . . . I felt confident.
Then results day turned up. My English exam was a D grade.
I've never got a D grade for anything in my life. Let alone the subject I wanted to study for the rest of my life.
I was upset. As in, crying-into-my-pillow-for-twenty-minutes upset. All my hard work, all the stress, all the confidence and high hopes I'd had . . . all gone in a moment.
Oxford was well and truly off my university application list. I'd have to get a re-grade, possibly even re-sit the exam, adding extra work to the already mammoth load that comes with one's final year of school. In fact, I'd have to rethink all my university application.
I'd single-handedly screwed up every facet of my future. And I just couldn't work out how it all went wrong.
While I was curled up in my room, retreated deep into my reality-free bastion of misery, my brain performed a feat of typical inappropriateness - it started thinking about books. I started thinking about all the dark moments when characters have felt like I did then. Sam collapsing in the depths of Shelob's lair, despairing and exhausted; the Pevensie sisters weeping over Aslan's body on the Stone Table; Meggie Folchart hiding in a cave while her father goes to entreat with death for the life of their friend, possibly never to return; Henry V kneeling in the darkness before the battle of Agincourt, practically weeping under the burden of responsibility he bears for the life of his miserable, starving army.
No matter how sad I was, my situation wasn't half as bad as that. Though perhaps bashing some French soldiers over the head with a broadsword would have made a wonderful release of my pent-up anger and frustration.
I didn't know why I thought like this at the time. I thought I was being silly, childish even, trying to distract myself from the fact that I was a dithering bumberclark. It took me a while to work out that it wasn't the characters' dark moments that were comforting me, but what happened next.
Everyone is entitled to their waily fits. But everyone also has a responsibility to sort themselves - and their respective messes - out afterwards. And that's exactly what these characters do. They don't just sit around and wait for someone to rescue them. They wipe their eyes, slap themselves across the face a couple of times, and move on. And it works. The Ring is destroyed, the White Witch is slain, the Inkworld is saved, and the French survivors are running for Paris in terror.
People have suffered, and their best-laid plans and hopes have been utterly obliviated. But they pushed on. They made it.
And that's what I'm doing now. My sword may be too big, I can't understand the coded riddles on my moth-eaten map, and I'm pretty sure my helmet's on backwards, but I'll be damned if I let that stop me.
People, circumstances, and the cosmos at large can cause our conflict. It's up to us to work for the resolution.
~ Charley R