In the middle of studying for my English language IGCSE exam, at age 14, I could never have fathomed pursuing any kind of writing as a career. I didn’t like formulating ideas, didn’t like having to be creative and struggled when having to. This dislike, or even distain, for anything to do with writing didn’t disappear, even when I was forced to write stories. I liked reading during this time, but when I compared myself to the authors of the books I enjoyed, I couldn’t see myself ever reaching their heights.
Having nothing to compare myself to only worsened this feeling, as while I did have the authors who I read from, that didn’t mean much as at that age it would have been a miracle were I to be as good as them while so young.
Nevertheless, I continued studying, practising for my exam, although I held no expectations, and was expecting myself to fail, or barely pass. I was pushing myself, but as with all home education, I had no one to compare myself to, so I couldn’t tell if I was doing well or badly. This carried on until the day of the exam. The nerves were running rampant, not letting me focus on anything but trying my best on this exam. Once I was inside, however, all emotions flew away, leaving my dull husk as remains, and I no longer had to worry about anything but the questions, which I started on instantly.
The first question, done, second, done, third done. I was blazing through all the questions which made me feel worse, as instead of looking at it like I was good at this, I looked at it as if I wasn’t any good at all and instead was just rushing through the questions without much thought. Finishing half an hour early, I sat there, looking over my writing and trying to correct anything I had done wrong, including making my writing more legible. It felt much longer because I kept watching the clock, but I couldn’t stop, because there was nothing else to do. The relief I felt flooded through my whole body as the clock finally reached the time I could leave, and I did instantly. I didn’t want to think about writing anymore and was just hoping that I was able to pass. Weeks passed, me doing everything but thinking about my exam. I hadn’t even failed one before and I didn’t want this to be the first time that it happened.
One day, while I was up in my room watching videos on my phone, nearly falling asleep, I heard someone coming up the stairs. That alone wasn’t anything abnormal, but once they reached the top and entered my room, I knew that something was different from normal. In my dad’s hand was a piece of paper. The results from my English exam.
Ninety-eight. I looked at those two words, not understanding what they meant. Reading the rest of the page I felt the hands that had been wringing my heart all this time finally release their grasp. I suddenly realised that maybe I wasn’t as bad at writing as I had previously thought.