Op-eds

Matric 2020: the good, the bad, and the blessed

  • DanielleSack
As matric starts to draw to a close, I could describe how difficult it was adjusting to writing exams while wearing a mask, or how I had to scream excitedly across a field to my friends at break due to social distancing. I could even complain about online school, how it affected my mental health and my marks, or I could describe that incredible feeling of seeing friends at school for the first time after lockdown.
by DANI SACK | Nov 19, 2020

It seems, on thinking about it, that this year can be categorised by emotions. Happiness: that Purim party I went to, which ended up being the last party I’d go to for a long, long time. Exhaustion: trying to stay awake during online classes, and the difficult adjustment process. Excitement: going back to school in June, roaming the empty campus with my friends, smiling behind our masks.

Disappointment: hearing that all the usual matric events were cancelled, and then elation: hearing that we were getting some form of matric dance. And finally, anticipation: the feeling that dominates this time of final examinations – counting down the days until the end of this hellish year.

I hit a roadblock when my great-grandmother passed away quite suddenly during the first week of finals. As those who have experienced loss know, it comes with a whirlwind of emotions – from disbelief to anger, denial to heartbreak.

In fact, on a much larger scale, every one of us has experienced some form of loss this year – the loss of loved ones, loss of normality, of routine, of physical touch, and the comfort of friends and family.

In spite of these losses, most of us have tried to find the good in our situation. And so, while I allowed myself to cry about my dear granny, I also chose to see the blessings that emerged from her passing.

I got to spend time with extended family I hadn’t seen for months. I thank Hashem every morning for waking me up healthy and content, reminiscent of my granny’s last words to me – to be “well and happy”.

Matric 2020 is finally at its end. Everything we have worked for has led up to that exam hall, a camera live-streaming us to Independent Examinations Board HQ, sweating from the heat, and desperate to be done with the paper – forever.

It’s the best feeling walking out of that hall, knowing you’ll never (please G-d) have to write that exam again. It’s that feeling that makes all those emotions – happiness, sadness, excitement, and exhaustion – worth it.

There’s a lesson in all of this. This year has been gruelling, to say the least. It has pushed our limits in every way possible. But we have the opportunity to look back and see everything we’ve achieved in spite of its challenges.

We have the chance to acknowledge the varied emotional states of 2020 – the good, the bad, and the ugly – and thank G-d that we got through them.

I can’t wait to wave this year goodbye, but I’m also grateful for it.

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