Have you ever felt pure, utter relief before?

I remember waking up on the day of my last exam and staring at my school uniform. It was going to be the last time I ever had to put it on and it was a weirdly sentimental feeling.

Sure, the uniform stripped away any of my personality I was able to show through clothing, but it also made me a part of something; a part of my year group who I loved and sometimes hated, a part of the school that I essentially lived in for six years.

I had stayed up late the night before, hoping I could cram as much as I could for an exam that, in retrospect, didn’t mean that much.

However, the the stress of the HSC/VCE/WACE/QCE/whatever clouds your judgement as you slog through exam after exam, not really knowing if there’s going to be light on the other side.

I remember lingering around the exam hall, clutching onto my final set of notes. My exam was on the very last day in the timetable, and it was weird looking at my Drama class.

We walked into the hall and, because we were the last exam, the supervisors put Freddo frogs on our desks. This was instantly calming. The timer started, the hours slowly ticked by, then it stopped.

But the rest of my world started.

I had spent the entire year mixed with feelings of stress, happiness and despair. I never thought exams were going to finish. I never thought there was going to be a moment where I wasn’t thinking about school. I never thought it was going to end.

And then it did.

The feeling was one I hadn’t felt before. It was like I was suddenly no longer being stormed with thoughts of stress and school- I finally felt good. I opened the exam hall doors and took a breath of fresh air. 

My friend and I looked at each other and smiled in shock. The moment that once felt so far away had arrived and all we could do was grin.

We walked down the walk way, through the quad, past the canteen and finally, out the gates. We were free, but couldn’t help but feel a little nostalgic.

I sat on my bed when I got home; still in my uniform and still grinning. I stayed there for a while. I think it’s important to truly take in a particularly special feeling before getting onto whatever is next.

After sitting there, just thinking for a while, I took my uniform off and chucked it in the laundry basket for the last time.

I thought about how many times I stressed that this day would never come. How many times I wished for school to be over. As I realised I reached that moment, I thought of that past version of myself; riddled with stress, hunched over his desk, trying to study his brain out but wishing it’d be over.

He’d be happy to see where I am now, feeling complete and utter freedom for the very first time.