Friday, August 19, 2011

To my 17 year old self...

So, yesterday was A-level results day. Though my own results are years ago, working in a university you can't escape the significance of the day for so many students who are itching to find out what their future holds when their exam results come through. I was thinking to myself what would I want to say to my 17 year old self 19 years after I got the results which meant I hadn't done well enough to get to my first choice university?

First, I'd want to say - let's be honest, you knew that you would get those results - the reason you feel bad is because you feel sad that others are disappointed in you. I know you feel scared about the change and the future that lies ahead. The truth is though, none of this will matter in the long run. You'll end up in a place in life that's just as fine as the 'perfect results' version of your life would have been. The bit you don't realise, is that the university you're going to go to now won't be the end of the story. The degree you're about to take won't make you happy. And, to be honest, you'll loathe just about every bit of your studies. But it's okay. Again, it'll just be one of those things which you'll emerge from at the other end and realise that that didn't really matter either.

Then I'd want to tell me that those results which seem so important. The results that your Head of Sixth Form has asked you if they're enough and you've said 'no', and the conversation has ended there and then. Those results won't even get a mention on your CV in the adult version of your life. You'll vaguely refer to '3 A-level passes' and wince when people mention A-level Maths. But, it still won't really matter.

The thing which you'll realise is that life is a jigsaw puzzle made up of thousands and thousands of pieces with an ever changing picture. And that's exciting. And that's what makes life interesting. And that's why, despite the fact that you think that you'll be done with education when you finish that degree you'll go on to take (and hate). You'll discover that you've only just started learning. And when you've grown up a bit, you'll do another degree. And light a fire of love of learning inside you that you just can't put out. And do another degree. And another. And want to take that passion for learning with you wherever you go.

And you'll know that no matter what, you have it inside you to survive and find a way to find the interesting things in life.

The thing I'd tell my 17 year old me is that this is a blip. A speck. A moment.

And then I'd give myself a jolly big hug.

PS And by the way, 17 year old version of me...
PPS ... I wouldn't change a thing.

[originally posted to my photo journal on 18th August 2011]
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