School Certificate

Letter about the psychological consequences of not taking the School Certificate


Going back to the question of why I did not insist even harder than I did on taking the School Certificate, I could not exactly be said to have done anything wrong on the criteria I had at the time, but that did not prevent the consequences for my life from being terrible.  I was always trying to refine my criteria and one had to try to find a way of preventing so serious a derailment from occurring again, if indeed it would ever be possible to get back onto the rails.  The sort of centralisation I had was fairly vaguely defined and hedonistic.  It was only working because I was in an environment that permitted it to do so.

Possibly there was something in it similar to what makes you prefer some kinds of activities to others.  It seemed as if there should always be an unconflicted and inspirational way ahead.

So when I found that there was no question of my transferring my drive to taking six A levels in eight months's time, instead of the School Certificate in two months's time, I did not withdraw my very reluctant agreement to the idea of not taking it, and insist on resuming my interrupted preparations, although the inspirational perfection of them had been destroyed, and several weeks wasted.  It was difficult to envisage the idea of doing something in a second-best way that had been going to be so perfect. 

It may well be that if I had declared that my agreement to not taking it had been based on a misunderstanding and I now withdrew it, it would have become clear that my consent had never been of any importance, and that my father and all concerned were perfectly prepared to prevent me from taking it against my will, however explicitly that will was expressed.

To have attempted to force my way back into a damaged situation would have required a grittier sort of centralisation than at the time I possessed, and in fact I thought a lot about whether it could be justifiable.  They had turned the situation into an unpleasant half-cock one, and one would if possible wish to avoid things which one could not do in such a way as to get anything out of.

But the result of not forcing myself back into that now rather grim and tedious situation was that I lost my centralisation altogether and did not get anything at all out of life for years, and was never able to do anything except in circumstances of extreme torment, suffering and nightmare.