Don’t let the title fool you. It is the end.
And don’t let that first line fool you eitherâ€¦because it kind of, well, isn’t.
This is not some big discussion about the end of the world, or the collapse of the economy or the decline of the chino – all very much news-worthy ‘This Is The End’ stories – but of something much more personal and, in a way, much more important.
It’s the end of an era. The end of secondary school. The beginning of university. This is the moment where you wake up, where you rub your eyes and where you say to yourself:
“I am an adult, I am in control of my own life, of my money, of my liver. I will not let myself down.”
As with all things serious, there’s got to be a song lyric or two to explain these feelings, of the impending end of this huge part of so many peoples livesâ€¦and the beginning of something entirely new.
As Demi Lovato once drawled in her mega-emosh-ballad, Skyscraper:
“As the smoke clears, I awaken, and un-tangle you from me.”
This is a very effective metaphor – cheers Demi – about the end of education, yes?
We have to now, people of my age, of my year, un-tangle ourselves from our current form of education. We’ve lived with it for quite some time now. It’s seen us grow. On many occasions it’s made us smile and on many occasions – mostly to do with maths – it’s made us cry.
But no more. No more.
It’s a very weird feeling, knowing that you are leaving secondary school education. This moment comes in its most pure and un-adulterated when you enter UCAS and you click on the university of your choosing to become your ‘firm’ offer. It’s the ultimate signal that, in just a few months, weeks, hours, minutes, you’ll be leaving this school. This corridor. This chair with a bad back and squeaky legs. It’ll all be gone. Those people you see around you? The faces that have drowned your vision and dulled your senses for the past decade or so? They’ll be moving on as well.
I imagine you, right now, if presented with the face of everyone your age in your school you’d be able to say without the slightest bit of hesitation: ‘Yes, I know who you are. Of course I do.’ What about in a few years? Will you pass each other in the street and, after years of shared memories, not know, or not care, who the other person is anymore?
As you click that mouse, these thoughts might flash by in your head at the speed of light – they surely did for me – that this is, truly a defining moment in your life. It’s the moment where, perhaps for the first time, you are firmly in the driving seat. Sure, people can tell you what to do, they can suggest choices, they can perhaps even order you into doing somethingâ€¦but when it’s just you, that mouse and UCAS, you are the one in control. You decide on your own destiny. You can grab life firmly by the reins and see what road – full of light or perhaps clouded by darkness – it takes you to.
If life was a movie – and perhaps it is, perhaps we are nothing more than characters in an eternal, never-ending movie for the Gods – then this would be a soundtrack moment. Happiness. Tension. Perhaps even horror.
In those few, brief seconds where you direct that mouse and you click it…it suddenly dawns on you that you can decide how to change your life.
In UCAS you have three main choices; firm (yes please), insurance (you’re not second best, I promise) and the choices you decline (look we need to talk) but which university fits into which box?
Which university will lead you to better things? Where will you meet life-long friends? Where will you meet the love of your life? Perhaps everything happens no matter what we choose. Perhaps the things that are meant to happen will happen, no matter what detour we choose to take. I’m a very firm believer in the concept of destiny; that we’re all meant for something. For some, this destiny could take the shape in their dreams coming true. For others, their destiny might be just to meet the love of their life. Or get a nice car. Or a nice haircut. I haven’t really worked out the theory just yet. But let’s roll with it.
Or perhaps life is just a gigantic ball of play-dough and we take control of it and shape it however we like. We can stick a few more colours in there for good measure. Maybe a few LEGO bricks to liven it up a bit; chicas of the world, spice up your life. Who knows? Who cares? It’s your life.
Back to the mouse. These thoughts are swirling in your head for just these precious few seconds when you’re free. You haven’t made your decision yet. Anything goes. Anything can happen. This could be, quite literally, the time of your life.
You may hesitate. You may flinch. You may give up, try again another day.
Or you just may click.
As you click, the movie starts back. New scenes. New characters. They are all to come for you, in this great road movie that is life.
You see? It isn’t the end.
Oh but it is. You’ve made the decision. You’ve made a commitment. As you drive on ahead, not daring to look back, on the cutting room floor lay the discarded portions of the life you could have led.