Given how long ago exams finished for me, I hope I can be excused for writing about them so late. My health interfered dramatically, and as a result they weren’t the success I had hoped they would be, despite working myself into the ground (or so it felt), preparing for them.
When you’re disabled, exams become a different thing. Everybody gets stressed at exam times, and nobody feels like they’re managing well with all the work that needs doing, but not managing well becomes something different when you’re not managing because your medication changed, or because you can’t seem to stay awake for more than fifteen minutes at a time – even during exams, or because you were in and out of hospital. This is why universities offer Extenuating Circumstances – so that if during your exam time you were met with circumstances that drastically negatively affected your results, you had some form of recourse. However, these only go so far when your disability has affected every single one of your marks throughout the year.
I know that I’m capable of performing better than I am. I know that if I did my degree at maybe 1/4 speed, maybe 1/8 speed, then I’d be able to put as much time and effort into each module as other students do, and then I’d be happy with our marks being assessed against each other – but I can’t do that, and any faster and I’m not being assessed as performing as well as I could do. I put more of my energy into my studies than anyone I know. The problem is how little energy I have to start with.
This is going to sound familiar to other people, this constant compromising in order to do as well as one can in ones studies, whilst also taking them at a pace that suits the world, and having to learn to understand when one doesn’t. A long time ago imagining I’d graduate with less than a first class degree was ridiculous. Now I’m aiming for a 2.1 and will be proud if I get that. Maybe by the time I graduate it’ll be with a 2.2 that I’ll know I worked hard to get, even if it’s painful.
On any level, disability can affect us during our studies, possibly in ways that will be reflected in the workplace, possibly in ways that won’t be reflected in the workplace, but that’s not all a degree is about. I’m reminding myself of this firmly at the moment – I came to university to learn, and I have learned, to study, and I have studied, to grow up, and I have grown up, and even if my health is stealing yet more from me, this time my brain and my academics, at least I can keep trying to learn, even if I don’t get the marks I wanted.
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-Whence I am blogging specifically about disability