As a teenager, life is contradictory. On one hand, we’re told the future is ours and that possibilities are endless, but we’re also made to feel as though things we do now are final and will affect us forever.
Huge amounts of pressure are put on GCSE students to do well, and there’s often a feeling that if you don’t revise for 5 months and pass all your exams, your entire future is ruined, which means you’ll spend your adult life unfulfilled and penniless. This carries through to college, where A-level and vocational grades are the be-all and end-all of your entire existence. There is no point having fun or sleeping when your whole future is on the line.
What we aren’t told often enough is that none of this is true. You might reach the day before an exam you haven’t revised for, and decide that there’s no point in trying. But even an hour of going over a topic could be the difference between a pass and a fail. You might get to August and see that you haven’t passed or done as well as expected in every subject. This might make you scared about what comes next.
Despite what you may think, and despite your grades, you can still do (pretty much) anything you want, and if certain doors are closed for you, there are compromises you can make to still have the life you want.
If your GCSE results aren’t what you expected, most colleges will still accept you onto the courses that you want to do. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t try to do well, but your life isn’t over because you got a D instead of a B in biology. If your mocks didn’t go as well as expected, there’s no reason that you can’t improve for next time. You are not defined by how successful you are at one point in time, but by what you can do better next time.
If you end college without the grades necessary for your university course or job or other form of education, there is less flexibility, but you can always look at places with lower requirements, or perhaps go on a different path that you never expected to take. You can still end up having an interesting and fulfilling experience.
After a mistake or a disappointment, take a second (or a couple of weeks) to breathe, step back from the situation, and think realistically about everything you could still do rather than the one thing you might no longer be able to do.
This doesn’t just apply to education, but to life in general. It’s never too late to change your mind about what you want to do, or the sort of person that you want to be.
It doesn’t matter where you are in life, you can always start to be different or better or learn new things – you’re not held back by the time. I left secondary school quiet, awkward, and without many friends. I’ve always been ‘weird’, and while that’s not necessarily a bad thing, it wasn’t who I wanted to be. I used the summer between school and college to work on meeting new people and being more positive, and ended up making more friends in college than I’d ever had before. I used my newfound confidence to take up new hobbies, join a theatre company, and stand up for myself. It was challenging, but the 16 years I’d spent with much less confidence didn’t stop me from deciding one day that I’d like to change.
The message I’m trying to convey is that if you have had setbacks, which have prevented you from doing these things, you are not as disadvantaged as you might feel. It’s never too late to try, learn, or achieve something new.