It’s A-Level results day, and around the country teenagers are crying or laughing. Or, y’know, both.
Months ago, I received an unconditional offer to the university I was all too happy to go to. I accepted; so these past few months haven’t been as stressful as if I had put down a conditional offer (which, by the way, I wouldn’t have made). It doesn’t mean I wasn’t nervous about results day, but it took the edge off.
I retook exams in the hope that I would be able to raise my final grade. Turns out that most of that was pointless, as from my BBBB at AS level, I came out with ABB for A Level (and a B in EPQ).
I’m a little disappointed – I worked harder than I have ever worked in my life, and still came out with Bs. But, then again, that’s actually really great! I’d just been aiming for As so it was a little blow – but only a little one. BECAUSE I STILL GOT Bs! I got what I was targeted.
And then there’s that A. In English Language and Literature – the subject that for a time I questioned would I ever pass. I partly credit this to my amazing friend/tutor. But guys. I fucking smashed it and I got an A. I’m so proud of myself.
I feel like when you come out of A Levels, that’s all anyone ever takes you for. People ask, “What did you come out of sixth form with?” And you know they mean grades without asking, and your mind probably jumps straight to grades as well. But you came out of college with so much more than that.
If people ask, “What did you come out of sixth form with?” I may well reply with, “Oh, an A and two Bs.” But that’s not all I came out with.
I came out of sixth form with a boyfriend who is more than I could ever have hoped for. I came out of sixth form with the confidence to smile in photos. The confidence to wear dresses with leggings; the confidence to wear tights and hold my head up high because, yes, my boobs are big, yes, they bounce, but look at them because they’re awesome. I came out with some friends I didn’t think it were possible to have. New books to love and teachers who really helped me. A broadened horizon. The ability to walk down (most) streets with my head high.
I may have gotten a B in Classics when I was hoping for an A, but I went to Greece with my Classics group. Greece! I walked around foreign cities without parents or teacher guidance! I fell in love with Ancient Greek texts. I learnt how you can study culture through art. I grew to love Odysseus. Classics made me laugh. It made me disappoint. I learnt so much and I worked so so hard and okay so maybe I only came out with a B, but I came out with a B, a love of a new language, the beginning of a study in Latin, and some new books which I could happily read into the wee hours of the morning and not get bored of.
I may have gotten a B in Extended Project, but I knew that my final essay wasn’t up to much! I spent so much time researching and having fun with the research that I didn’t calculate enough time left over to do the write up. But I stood in front of a group of people with my heart pounding and my body tense to deliver a talk on Jason and the Golden Fleece. I learnt valuable lessons about planning, writing and editing. I loved the process of writing EPQ and even if I didn’t come out with my hoped for A I got a B and that’s still pretty damn good.
I may have gotten a B in Psychology but I retook one of my C-grade AS papers and got an A. I got an A at AS! I learnt about things in the mind which I can not only apply to everyday life, but I can apply to my writing (stand well back, or a psychology student will analyse you and put you in a book). I saw some great psychologists speak in London with my friend. I enjoyed the learning process in class. Psychology is endlessly fascinating and I have a pile of books and a never-quietened thirst for knowledge to show for it.
I would say “I may have gotten an A in English” but y’know what? I GOT AN A. I got an A and two Bs and I worked my ass off for them. I should be fucking proud.
So I got an A in English. My teachers didn’t think I would. (It may be a good idea if I don’t go in today running around screaming, “I TOLD YOU SO!”) I very much broadened my horizons in the literature I read and read a lot of extra material outside class. I have a love of George Orwell and faction novels. I wrote a short story I’m really proud of for my AS coursework (which I retook for A2 with some minor changes and got about 9 marks better!). English may have been difficult and, at times, my least favourite class but I’ve stuck with it and look at me going off to University in September to study English and Creative Writing.
A Levels are just a really hard stop off point to the rest of your life. They’re like the one wobbly rock in a stream when you’re trying to cross to the other bank and you can either fall in or hop to the next one. (And you’ve got to remember that, even if you fall in, you can wade.) You may have come out of A Levels with three grades you either wanted or didn’t, but you have to remember that that’s not all you came out with.
Exam results may be important – for a brief period of time. But you shouldn’t reduce yourself to a set of letters. That’s something I’ve learnt by crying my eyes out today and having people I love cry for me. I’m worth much more than that, and I’m going to prove it come September, too.