Last Janurary I bought my graduation dress. I got it in the post-debs sale in Debenhams. I was and still am delighted with it and have shoes to match too. But it’s going to be another year before I get to present and combine it with a cap and gown. One of the more difficult years I’ve had so far has resulted in me repeating final year. There’s part of me that is delighted! Maybe relieved is a more appropriate description. The idea of leaving university made me panic, upset and a little nervous to be honest. Stepping into the real world? I definitely wasn’t ready for that, but repeating?

I’ve never been more disappointed, angry and unsurprised. I knew in Feburary that I wasn’t going to be able to finish the year with a 2.1 or higher which is what I need to continue my life plan A. I had far too many personal things that I couldn’t ignore long enough to get the study time in. Knowing this, I dropped the ball completely. I spent a lot of time replaying scenarios I couldn’t change in my mind and not on what I could change.

Within the space of a year I managed to experience a lot. Some good, some bad and some that I’ve no idea how I managed to cope with. I’m not going to tell you that I didn’t solely blame the events and people involved on my failing because I did. I did because I’m human and that’s what we do. Taking responsibility isn’t always easy and especially when it’s the failure of something you take pride in. Sometimes I still do feel this way but when I have a clear mind and my logic is free of anger I can see it all more clearly.

I can’t solely blame the events that unfolded, I should have just put them aside and put my energy into studying but I wasn’t in a position to do that. These people meant something to me. I felt hurt and angry for hurting them, even more so when I didn’t know how I was doing it. I watched as the man I was in love with deteriorated to a point where he nearly ceased to exist, my friends became absoulte strangers to me and everything else seemed to stem from there. I was given a tough ultimatum, difficult news and under the stress my mental and physical health suffered deeply. Judgement clouded with the pain I made some terrible decisions. Sharing private information with people I thought I could trust and losing the trust of those who had confided in me and them completely. This only scratches the surface, but I try not to dwell on it because there’s nothing I can do to change it.

It hurts even now knowing I let all these things hold me back. It really hit home when I attended the graduation ceremony,  but there was no way I was letting my own misfortune deprive my friends from the support they deserve, regardless of whether they needed or wanted it or not. Charlene and I only really became friends this year. And things really started to kick-off when we were working on a campaign for a mutual friend of ours, Chris, and ever since we’ve been thick as theives really. I jumped at the opportunity to be moral support and official make-up artist/photographer for the day. We woke at half six, the ceremony started at ten. I helped with her hair, make-up and getting the over-priced rental gown and cap on.

I dropped her off at Humanity House where I bumped into other graduating friends and lecturers asking how my day was to which I responded politely that I wasn’t graduating and tried my best to keep it light so that I wouldn’t dampen their day. There were different reactions, many were sympathetic but also supportive. Those who knew me well, knew that it was for the best. Unfortunately, this didn’t make the day any easier. I watched friends and “foes” in the procession, ready and nervous to receive their degrees. I couldn’t help but feel “that should be me”. I hadn’t considered how the day would make me feel. I didn’t realise that it was going to be difficult. It didn’t mean I wasn’t happy for them, I am, I was just sad I wasn’t with them.

I didn’t watch the ceremony. Instead, I left them to it and joined other students not graduating that day in the library to try take our minds of it. We failed miserably by playing sudoku and a version of air hockey on one of the tables fitted with computers to make the place look more high tech than it is. The time passed quickly and before I knew it the new graduates were pouring out of Aula Maxima.

I was overcome with a feeling of pride and joy. They were so smart looking in their sunday best and degrees in hand. They had worked so hard and truly deserved this. I could barely put my camera down. I wanted to remember the happiness I could feel, the smiles on their faces. Plus, it was a great way to keep myself occupied. This wasn’t my day, I wasn’t going to interfere with it eiher. This stopped no one from trying to include me. I was invited into photos and never once was left feeling forgotten.

I can sit here and linger on the bad but I can’t deny the fact that despite all of the awful happening that some good came out of it. I have some pretty amazing friends that I didn’t realise I had until about nine months or so ago. Not the ones I thought I would after four years but they’re just as good if not far better. I have someone I love and who loves me back. Lastly, I know now that I am a million times stronger than I was. Depression is an on going battle, but life stops for no one and nothing. There’s not a doubt in my mind that the briefly described events in the above paragraph would have been ten times easier had I not woken up everyday with this on my shoulders, but I can’t change that. I will probably never change the fact that I’m depressed. I don’t have words to describe how now I am okay with that because I know I will find a way to manage.

A good friend of mine, Jonah, is also repeating the year after something simialar happened. He too felt his life come crashing around him and yet today he stands tall. A series of events that seemed impossible to get through but he braved through and in the end is now all the better. He’s written about his feelings on repeating (I’ve copied and pasted it for you to see below) and come up with a great very acturate and catchy hashtag for repeating final year (or any year for that matter):

#RepeatNotDefeat

The last two lines are my favourite but leave a comment and let me know what you think guys 🙂

Repeat, Not Defeat

Last week I watched as many of my friends and aquaintencesdonned their caps and gowns,
I remember being with them in the beginning,
in first year, until now,
After four years in university, I did not graduate,
Why? You may ask, well allow me to elaborate,
The year of 2016, to say the least,
has not been the best for me,
financial debts loomed over my head and crushed dreams became a harsh reality,
“How could this be” I asked myself,
When I returned from my year abroad I thought I was ready for the next step,

I felt like I found all the inner answers to myself or so I believed,
Looking back I wonder how I could have been so naive,

The year started off great I must say,
working two jobs on campus, active in societies and still socializing,
And not to forget living in a fun house with very good friends,
Darren, Fionnuala and Shannon,
Especially getting to live with my best friend Alan,
However,
As the semester went on things gradually became dim,
As second semester rolled on I felt the darkness from within,
Yet,
I still stayed on track of the two goals that matters most to me,
Brining MENding Monologues to Europe and becoming Student Union VP,
I gave blood, sweats and tears into that campaign,
In the end I lost and just wished I could run away,
Then I learned something new after my campaign obsession,
All this time I had been suffering from depression,
The word hit me so deep when said by my friends,
I had lost final year and just wished to start all over again,
Yet,
With frequent visits to the doctor and consellor,
I made the conscience effort to get myself better,

I still had many acomplishments,
I have to admit,
took part in Pride Soc’s DCU drag race and MENding Monologues was a huge hit,
In the end of the year some friendships were strengthened,
some friendships were lost,
In the end, I learned who would stay by side at any cost,
While I failed the year I gained knowledge and wisdom in other ways,
some lessons you can’t find in academic grades,

Now,
after,
A very challenging summer,
Job and House hunting,
while working as a restaurant kitchen porter,
I have new respect for work and life,
I hit rock bottom last year and now I will Rise,

Rise above the darkness that dragged down,
Rise above my inner demons I’ll stay unbound,
Now the 19th is here and lectures begin once more,
Yes I can now admit I am doing Final year again all over,
Clean slate,
I won’t take,
A day for granted,
I am ready and excited,
The Fire for my Passions in life have be reignited,
My heart is full of gratitude and love for getting a second chance,
I have moved on,
Leaving my pain behind,
in the past,
I have this opportunity to finally makes things get right,
I will give it everything I have to win this Fight,
I have a Job, a Beautiful home,
and Everything I Need,
I am shooting high for my academics this time and I will do my very best to succeed,
So I am Repeating final year and I will Graduate,
I do not see the year just gone as a waste,
probably the last year of my Maynooth Education,
I look forward to September for my own Graduation,
(At least the final year of my Bachelor’s,
We’ll see if I chose to do Masters)
So well done to my friends and aquaintences for graduating ,
I am actually glad it turned out this way ,
My time is coming.

 – Jonah Worcester

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