Have you ever had assignments at school, where they ask you to write a letter to your younger self? I’ve been asked to do this a couple of times. I could never really churn out an answer. If asked to write a letter to my 16 year old self, I’d put in generic rubbish like:
“Enjoy school while you can, because it’ll be over soon! Stay away from that boy, make friends with that person, and pick a better twitter username!”
Eugh. The dullness is real.
Today though, I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting. For those who might not know – it’s A-Level Results Day in the UK; the day everyone in their last year at school/college gets their exam results, and usually finds out if they’re going to university. If you get your grades, it’s the best day, you celebrate and get drunk. If you miss your grades, you often end up going through this thing called Clearing (the word itself still daunts me), you ring up other universities begging them to give you a place, you get one, you celebrate and get drunk.
It’s scary. It’s like, REALLY scary.
I dropped 6 marks across all of my A-Level work, and in August 2011, I found myself in clearing. I’ve told this story a thousand times, and if you’re actually interested in that horrible day in my life, you can read it here.
Rather than sit and think about how crap that day was, I’ve been thinking about how far I’ve come in 5 years. It seems particularly poignant that some fairly significant events have taken place on the A-Level Results Days in the years since mine. I wanted to share these stories.
1 year after my Results Day:
I had such a good Summer in 2012! Sometime around A-Level Results Day, I was in Tenerife, and when I was back from there, I was off to Leeds Fest. Being 19 was a pretty good time for me.
3 years after my Results Day:
By August 2014, I’d gotten myself a 2:1 in my History degree, and I was working as Vice-President in my SU. It was A-Level Results Day 2014; we had cracking weather that day, and I was wandering back to my SU building after a meeting, or something. I was walking past the library, and I spotted this kid and his mum. The mum’s face was pretty tear-stained, and the lad looked so pale. I overheard a bit of their conversation, and picked up on the Leeds accents. The Yorkshire lass in me went over to the pair and rather cockily introduced myself and asked if I could do anything to help them. Turned out he’d got into Hull through clearing and his mum had kicked him into the car and come straight to campus. I ended up showing them all around the campus, found out what he was gonna study, and what he was interested in. I don’t remember how long I nattered on to them for. I told them about all the societies in the SU, all about the city, and any tit-bits of info I knew about his course. They left, and I said I’d see him in Freshers Week.
See him I did. I kept an eye on him during his first year, and filled up with pride every time I saw him at a society event or around campus. He came to my SU’s big end-of-year Awards Night, and I took it open myself to embarrass him and tell the world how proud I was (I did try to keep it anonymous, but his friends figured out I was talking about him – awks). I still keep a little eye now. I call him my lollipop moment (if you haven’t watched it yet, you HAVE to see this video).
To have that kind of involvement in a day and in a decision that will impact his life so much…it’s something I will never forget.
5 years after my Results Day:
Okay, when the hell did I get so old that, as I’m writing this, it’s been FIVE WHOLE YEARS since I got my results!? Somehow, I’ve come to a nearly full circle, and as I write this, I’m at my desk, working for the same university who accepted me through Clearing 5 years ago today.
Yesterday, I held an event I’ve spent the past month or so working on; an event for all members of staff in the Faculty I work for, and it went really well! I was so nervous. It was such a big platform and place for me to prove myself to my bosses, other colleagues, and really, to myself too.
This morning, I came into work and the Dean (the “boss”) of the Faculty came into my office with a thank you card and a bottle of fizz. I welled up! I wasn’t expecting it at all, but it truly signified to me how far I’ve come. I also got an email this afternoon from an incoming Head of School, who asked ME for a meeting so I can share my insights and thoughts because he wants to learn stuff from me. I feel like I’m bragging and showing off, but I feel so humble. Hard work has gone into getting myself to where I am today. Not my A-Level Results.
While my A-Level Results Day will never hold a place in my heart, in fact, I’ll still look back on that day and get angry, Clearing wasn’t the disaster I thought it was. Wonder what my life will be like at the next milestone anniversary of those results…