It has now been three weeks since I received my exam results, yet the overwhelming feeling of pride hasn’t diminished. Earlier this year, just one month into lockdown, I was faced with a dilemma like no other. I had been studying hard for my May exams and I was feeling positive about my early start. However, one evening I began to notice a strain in both of my eyes. Everyone gets a bit of eye strain though, right? I did the normal thing like anyone else; I came off my screens and closed my eyes to relax them. Unfortunately, the discomfort didn’t subside, if anything it got worse.
That night I went to bed in a state of worry, this wasn’t something I’d experienced before, however, I figured everything would have settled by the morning. Instead, what had just begun was an optical predicament that remains unsolved. A quandary that left me feeling hopeless at times and one that is still dictating my life today. I’ve been asked to share my story with the goal to inspire others, to provide a true example of one of life’s metaphorical hurdles and the process that helped me leap over this invisible barrier.
Following my night of severe eye strain, I found myself unable to withstand more than half an hour of screen-time, and that was just my Macbook alone, my iPhone was completely off the cards. At the time I figured this was a completely unrealistic obstacle to get past and after a few days of no improvement, I was on the phone to Specsavers begging for help. They gave me screen glasses… no good. I returned. They gave me eye drops… no good. I returned. They gave me the very final test within their arsenal just to tell me… “there’s nothing wrong with the eyes themselves Mr Evans”. I couldn’t fathom the words I had been told, there was no way I had been bestowed with a condition that extended beyond the vast knowledge of the professional in front of me.
A feeling of deep and utter helplessness sank through my stomach, a desperately powerful feeling that exhumed flickering memories of past mental health battles. I had four weeks until my exams began. Exams that I needed a screen to revise for, and exams that I needed a screen to take. With my best screen-time for a single day now reaching two hours at a push, the time management challenge I had in front of me was one that would push me to the very edges of self-belief and optimism.
In the days ahead of me, I had to experiment. It was a period of thorough research that involved testing various techniques and spots around the house that would provide me with the best chance of getting my exam knowledge up to the level I needed it to be. Ultimately, this led to me sitting outside on the driveway, sporting my brand-new glasses and filtering the harsh lights emitted by my Macbook screen through the use of a translucent blue folder divider. It was an interesting set-up, to say the least, however, I could now revise for well over my previous two-hour record and I began to dream again.
Over the course of the next few weeks, I had good days, and I had terrible days. Those tough days you could find me looking to the heavens in a pit of ‘woe is me’ as my girlfriend frantically tried to reassure and comfort my forlorn state. The constant reminder of how far I’d come rang from ear to ear like a perpetual state of shellshock. A persistent barrage of positivity and support continued to bombard the fortress that is my stubborn nature in a desperate attempt to keep me on track. It was this kindness that propped me up and ensured that those negative days were far outnumbered.
When the exams finally rolled round, I couldn’t believe it, but I felt ready. I felt an almost ironic glint of belief shine from the very eyes that had caused me such problems. In my head and my heart, I knew that I had done everything that I could have done and that whatever the results were at the end of it all, I had truly done my best.
On the 31st of July, I opened my results to see that I achieved a first in every module. Although I didn’t need these results to validate the hard work and dedication I put into getting over this challenge, they now sit there as a persistent reminder of ‘you can achieve anything’. To everyone else who has received their results, congratulations, you’ve persevered through such an unprecedented time and that in itself must be applauded infinitely.