A Level results day – 10 years on…

I keep meaning to write something about results day in 2007, and now it’s 10 years on and my little sister is currently on her way to school to pick up her results as I type, now seems a more poignant time than ever.

Year 13, was a time when to put it bluntly I basically ‘lost the plot.’ I didn’t think that I’d get a place at uni, given how distracted I became in my final year of school – although complaining when I did get into my 1st choice of university seemed counterproductive. I did well in my A levels and I’m the sort of person who convinces my friends that I’m going to fail a degree and then do the opposite.

Results day in 2007 began with waking up at Folkworks Summer School, at Hild Bede in Durham. I left my friends for school – this was before smart phones (they might have just been invented, but I know I didn’t have one,) so unlike my sister and her friends today I couldn’t check Ucas first thing to be reassured that I’d got a place. I entered the school into what felt like the unknown. In the evening, I returned to Folkworks. The music felt like the best celebration ever, more so now when I realise with the benefit of hindsight how much playing fiddle did for me during those ‘make or break’ years.

I remember one girl from my year being featured in the local paper (and on the news,) I also remember her being everything I know I am not – someone the teachers thought the world of and was popular with everyone she met. I remember seeing that news item and feeling physically sick. When I turned 18, the realisation that I was an adult scared me more than it should have, so my natural reaction was to almost mess up my A Levels. I got all four A Levels though, so who am I to complain? This was also the first year I finally went along to see a doctor about my mental health – someone medical telling a teenager that she’s “definitely not depressed and that it’s just a phase” isn’t helpful for anyone in the middle of exams. I always knew that I would struggle more than most in certain jobs, but hadn’t really worked out how yet, or had any conversations about how my Dyspraxia would translate in the world beyond school. The one thing I would change if I could go back now, is for people to have these discussions with me. it might have made a difference to my A Level music grade, there is of course more to academia and doing well in exams. Of course we say that, those of us who have been there and are doing alright several years later – but is telling an 18 year old not to worry about results because they don’t mean anything helpful? Of course not. Whenever I heard that at 18, I wanted to bite persons head off. They do matter and it would be wrong to suggest otherwise.

My ten years on advice is a long list of ‘don’t do what I did’ – so I won’t do that, but what I can say is that results are important, so celebrate them, make a plan if things aren’t as expected, have fun with your mates and enjoy your time at uni – you will never again have so many experiences, (unless you decide two masters is a wise move, but again I wouldn’t recommend that decision unless you’re absolutely certain.) University the third time around has taught me to do what you enjoy, and find what you’re good at. I’ve spent ten years getting here, and I’m still working it out. Today is stressful, tomorrow might be too but if you work on your strengths rather than who society expects you to be, you can’t go far wrong.

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