Personal Essay: Moments of Uncertainty

Write a personal essay about one or more moments of uncertainty you have experienced. 

Candidates may adopt a variety of approaches (serious, humorous, anecdotal, discursive, etc.), but they should include a reflective element, and focus on one or more moments of uncertainty. Allow for a broad interpretation of “moments” and “uncertainty.” 

Based on a Leaving Cert student's essay

2014/English/Paper I/Section II/Composing/Q6

Uncertainty is something that everyone encounters at some point in life. In my life, I have an usual selection of uncertain moments. In the words of a good old friend "uncertainty is a bitch". I like to think of every opportunity as a door. Sometimes you can only take one door. "When one door closes, another one opens." There were doors I sprinted for, doors I glued shut, some I closed gently and some I closed and regretted. Many of the doors I hesitated at left a mark: some good, some bad but marks nonetheless. 

When I hear the word "uncertainty", I instantly think of two words: "questions" and "regrets". I find that the moments of uncertainty are the moments I think about most. One of the major moments of uncertainty in my short 17 years was coming out about my sexuality. There were so many questions going through my head: "What will people think?", "Will I be treated differently?" and "Will I be isolated?" I didn't know what to do or who to talk to. I was tossing and turning for nights-on-end, worrying about everyone's reactions and opinions. Everyone's except mine. I was putting everyone ahead of myself as I usually do. I was being eaten alive by this question. I was on a path to self-destruction. I isolated myself from my friends and family. There was only one way out, suicide.

leaving cert english paper 1 personal essay

One night, I found myself sitting on my bedroom floor crying. I didn't know what I was doing. This voice started talking to me. First, I thought it was higher power reaching out to me, but it was just my friend on the phone. Obviously, that one friend turned everything around. I "came out" a couple days later and haven't looked back since. Sure, sometimes I wonder what my life would have been like if I hadn't been open about my sexuality at 15. Yes, I openly said I was gay at fifteen. That seems to shock people, but I never understand why. I guess that whole situation showed me that someone always cares. It also showed me that people are not as closed-minded as I thought, or at least, my friends and family weren't. 

By closing that door of uncertainty behind me and stepping into this new room, I must have accidentally opened a window to bullying. Yes, I got bullied. I don't know why, and I probably never will. I had got through two years of secondary school without any issues, so I always blamed it on "coming out". I'm going to spare you the little, petty details of each tedious incident and which ignorant pig was to blame. Usually, when I say that I got bullied, I feel like I'm playing the sympathy card. I'm not proud of it! If anything, I'm mortified by it. I treat it like a nasty scar, hide it and try to forget that it even happened. It doesn't bother me that I got treated that way, I had anticipated it - no uncertainty there!

The fact that bothers me to this day is that it went unpunished. Is this the society we live in? Where a majority can treat a minority whatever way they want? If so, I'd gladly be isolated! I couldn't tolerate it anymore. I had to escape. Uncertainty was better than certain torture. As school was the main host to my plague, that was the first change to be made. It's all well and good to block people on Facebook, but that doesn't stop them in real life.
leaving cert english paper 1

Given the state I was in, I figured that a new school couldn't be any worse. I had already had a year of agonising torture, I could deal with two years in a new school even if they were equally as horrible, which I highly doubted. I moved to a mixed school from an all-boys school in the same town. I don't understand why, but I find that boys tend to act differently when there are girls around. I honestly didn't know what to expect coming into this school. I experienced both anxiety over the uncertainty and relief of escaping the certain badness of my previous school. I knew two people in my class. Fifth year was alright, nothing fantastic. I still only really knew two people in my class by the end of it. Sure, I knew everyone's names, but that's as far as it goes.

Sixth year is going better, I'm actually enjoying school, which -if you asked me during third year- is something I never thought I would say. Given that my new school was full of uncertainty, it turned out great. As I always say, "Change is a good thing". I guess that's my story about uncertainties. I have learnt some valuable lessons in my short 17 years; I learnt to think of myself as well as of others, that someone always cares and to always embrace change. Now my only uncertainties are about what happens after the Leaving Cert. Hopefully, I head off to college. Until then, I'm taking life one door at a time.

Remarks

The metaphor framework (opening and closing doors) helps to add structure. 
The essay is deeply personal as per the brief, and the language is emotional.


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