The following blog was written by a PAPYRUS staff member.
Results day. It seems that your whole life has led up to this moment. Your teachers and tutors have probably been making it seem like absolutely everything rides on how well this day goes. No pressure, eh?
You’ll have dedicated so much time working towards or stressing about exams and/ or assessments. You might be waiting to see if you can get into a college, or a uni, or just get the grades you had been hoping for.
For me, studying my A levels was probably one of the lowest parts of my life. I had no motivation, no energy, and my mental health was rock bottom. I couldn’t get through a single day of college without crying. My brain just did not know how to concentrate, how to study. I had burned myself out so much at GCSE, that I felt I didn’t have any energy left in my tank. I didn’t want to be that way again, so I avoided my work.
Results day came along, which happened to fall on my 18th birthday. I got a U in one of my papers of my favourite and strongest subject. I got an X in another subject. An X! Who even knew that was a grade? You can imagine the stress, right?
Naturally, what followed was heartbreak, bawling my eyes out that I had not got into my chosen uni, and panic about what on earth I was going to do next. As you can imagine, it was a very happy birthday. To cut a very long story short, fast forward three years and I was graduating with a 2:1 in a combined honours degree of those very same two subjects (a big shout out to Clearing and lower grade entry requirements). I don’t regret a single bit.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not advocating for striving for ‘bad’ grades, or not putting the effort in. What I am saying is, your wellbeing comes first. You need to be safe and well, and most importantly, alive, to complete your education. This always comes first.
Whatever your GCSE or A level results are, whether they’re what you were hoping for, better, or worse. What they are is a stepping stone. A stepping stone onto the next chapter. The stone you step onto next may not be the route you planned, nor the route that everyone else seems to be taking but that is okay. It will most likely seem scary, this is perfectly normal, because it’s uncertain. We don’t like uncertainty.
Despite how it may seem, this is not your one and only chance to ‘make it’ and to be ‘successful’. Success means different things to different people. Once you leave education, you’re not held up to the ‘milestones’ that the education sets out for you, you get to define what success looks like to you. Also, you can resit exams, you can return to education at any age, if that’s something that you want to do.
Consider that if you’re finishing GCSEs or A levels this year, you’ve had to experience disruption on such a scale that no other generation has had to manage, whilst competing with ever-shifting grade boundaries. This may be one of the most stressful things that you’ve had to endure in your life so far. Be kind to yourself! The fact that you’ve got through it, is a massive achievement in and of itself.
Remember that you are so much more than letters or numbers on a piece of paper. You have skills, talents, passions and strengths. You may not even have had the chance to discover all of these just yet.
On results day, it may be helpful to take someone along to collect your results, to offer support with the overwhelming feelings. If things have not gone how you hoped, there should be teachers or tutors on site at your school or college to offer you advice about your next steps. It’s a lot easier said than done, but try not compare yourself to others. This is your journey. Some people find it helpful to avoid social media around results days to avoid doom-scrolling and comparing results and uni offers etc with others.
Share your feelings and any worries aloud, what you’re feeling is perfectly normal and valid, but it’s a lot to carry around by yourself. Whether you reached out to a loved one, or even a helpline, you deserve support.
Plan something on Results Day to take care of yourself. Whether it’s to celebrate or commiserate, having a distraction in place may ease those overwhelming mixed emotions. Whether you go out for a meal with your loved ones, or keep it more low-key and have a movie or games night. Do what you need to do.
Here are some services that you can reach out to for some emotional support:
The Mix offers a multi-channel mental health helpline to young people up to the age of 25
Childline offers emotional support to anyone age 19 and under
HOPELINE247 is open everyday from 9am until midnight, if you need anonymous and confidential support to manage thoughts of suicide. Call 0800 068 4141, text 07860 039967 or email email@example.com.