Sometimes it gets very hard to remember that exams and school won’t last forever. I think secondary school gave me tunnel vision in regards to the future. Because of how the system is set up all focus is on one month at the end of Year 11, meaning that anything beyond that month becomes mere fantasy. Exams make up a fraction of life, yet with the ridiculous amount of emphasis school places on them it’s all too easy for them to eclipse the other, more important, aspects of it.
Personally, I found this pressure way too much to handle and eventually cracked sometime near the end of Year 10, just before I was due to take my Eng Lit exam a year early. I ended up being homeschooled for the rest of Year 10 and the whole of Year 11. Being away from the oppressive school environment allowed me to reignite the interests and hobbies that had been crushed by exam pressure. For the first time in years my self esteem wasn’t dictated by what grades I got.
One thing I found really helpful when my future felt like an endless tunnel of exams was imagining what I wanted to be doing once they were all over. Picturing what my perfect life would look like, I guess.
For some reason, a lot of these daydreams centred around my fictional apartment and what it would look like. The apartment always had a balcony, overflowing with plants, which gave me a birds-eye view of the street below and allowed me to people-watch from a comfortable distance. I imagined myself sitting out there, in the soft light of early evening, wearing silky 1930s lounge pyjamas and nursing a cup of fine tea from my collection. In fact, many of the dreams revolved around well curated collections of things. Collections of teas, music, books, vintage underwear, mismatched china and unusual glass bottles.
Compared to the very specific details I fixated on in my imaginary apartment, my fictional ‘job’ was extremely vague. I had a hazy notion that it should be something with minimal responsibility, yet nothing soul-crushingly dull. Maybe working in a store selling tea -as you may have noticed, I’m quite into tea- or in a coffee shop straight out of a Murakami book.
I still find it very comforting to think of this possible future version of myself. Because it doesn’t exist, it never has to change. It can always be there in the back of my mind, ready for me to take out and dust off anytime I need some reassurance; like rereading a favourite bedtime story.