Connor Gormley Small

Waiting for university


So exams have finished and I’m in limbo. It’s a strange place to be, really, something of an anti-climax.

The whole exam period has congealed into an amorphous, barely remembered mass, one defined by lucid nightmares about chemistry questions in the history paper, by the act of pressing my fingers into my hollow head in a desperate bid to fit more in. Everything seemed to be hurtling towards some sort of cataclysm, some academic explosion so grand it consumes half the south coast.

Except it just didn’t happen. And now they’re all over. Now I’m not really sure what to do with myself.

Preparing For Uni

A big part of my head just doesn’t seem to be working; there’s a vacuum at the fore of my skull where thoughts and emotions would usually be but currently aren’t. All conscious thought seems to take place behind a pretty pervasive veil of empty. It’s at once brilliant because, well, I probably need it, and horrifying because I secretly fear it will never work again.

Nevertheless I have a lot of free time now. University is more or less sorted. Assuming I get the grades (oh god, oh god, oh god, I hope I get the grades) I’m off to Exeter in September to study English.

Largely, I’m looking forward to the whole act of studying writers with significantly more talent than me, but all that free time means I’ve got a lot of space in which to sit around and second guess myself. My opinion seems to flit, pretty arbitrarily, between nail biting terror- am I even smart enough for it? Did I really pick the right course? Is it possible to eat nothing but beans for three years straight? – and then to some sort of unreserved excitement.

Exeter Cathedral

Aside from that, I’m doing what a lot of people are doing; trying to give myself the space to relax, trying to do all the things exams momentarily sucked away. I’m tentatively increasing my hours at work, trying (with only limited success) to get in shape, reading books, watching movies, doing more of that Jiu-Jitsu thing I was talking about, and stoically refusing to confront the fact that life is quickly moving on.

Well, that’s not entirely true. I’m making a few preparations. My course has released a preliminary reading list and I’ve made a few edgeways into it.

By ‘edgeways’ I mean I bought a used copy of The Odyssey and spent yesterday staring at it in the same way you might stare at a corpse in the woods; a strange mix of grim fascination and deep-rooted terror. A part of you, a grim part, sort of wants to poke at it with a stick but the other part is aware that, if you do, it might wake up and try to eat you.

So yeah. I’m in a strange place, I suppose. I’m scared but also not scared; as excited as I am terrified, I’m capable of constructing simile about trying to read The Odyssey but not capable of ensuring they make sense.

Let’s just see how it all works out, shall we?