Forget your goals. Forget your targets. Forget your sleepless nights before exams. Forget your exams you messed up because you were too tired to concentrate. Forget the tears you cried before exams. Forget the tears you cried after exams. Forget the pressure you subjected yourself to. Forget grades. Forget. Forget. Forget.
Forget that Results Day is a month away. Delete the countdown on your phone. Erase the reminder on your calendar. Remove the imprint. What does it even matter? As with any other date approaching on your calendar, you have no power to truly control how the events will plan out, so stop trying.
Rather than dwell on what could have been and the what-ifs that stalk us throughout our lives, remember. Remember the hard work you put in. Remember the never-ending late nights of caffeine fuelled revision sessions. Remember the 1,000+ flashcards you made and the 10,000+ past papers you completed and the 100,000 pages of notes you wrote. Remember the months you spent re-writing and re-writing and re-writing the same old notes 100,000,000 times just so you could say you knew the American Constitution off by heart. Remember you put everything into your exams. Remember that as you answered those god-forsaken questions a little bit of you glided out on the paper and painted a picture of yourself for the examiner to see.
Remember that grades don’t matter and remember that society is wrong for telling you they do. Of course, yeah, they matter to some extent. But they’re not the be all and end all. Remember that there’s options if things don’t go as well as you’d hoped and remember that the earth doesn’t stop spinning, the sun doesn’t stop shinning and you won’t stop smiling for all of eternity just because you didn’t get the grades you wanted. Remember that society’s messed up for making people feel that they need 3 A*s to justify their self-worth. Remember that society’s messed up for making people feel the only way to be successful is 3A*s at A Level, an A in Extended Project and a First Class degree from Harvard. Remember that society’s messed up for telling you to put an exam that occupies a total of 90 minutes of your life is more significant than you, your sanity and your mental health. But remember: this is society’s problem – not yours.
If you put your all into your exams, then you should be proud. Proud that you were able to focus your energies on a single goal and this is a type of pride that an insignificant letter on a piece of paper can never take away from you. Take pride in the satisfaction that know that when it comes to pursuing a career, you know that rather than dreaming about what you want to do, you’ll have the passion, drive and commitment to make it happen. Life is a culmination of the opportunities that we make for ourselves and the three letters you’ll receive on a piece of paper this August will never be a substitute for passion.
So forget about grades. If you couldn’t have worked any harder, what else could you have done? We need to stop feeling that we need to sacrifice our mental well-being for a variation of lines of ink on our CVs. The expectations we place on ourselves to run so extensively in such a marathon is counter-productive; it makes us want to run further and further without pausing for breath purely to prove to ourselves that we can push ourselves to the very limit without collapsing. Feeling that you grades to justify your existence is only ever going to be counter-productive. Getting a grade or two bellow what you initially aimed for can feel earth-shattering, but this is only as a result of our contorted views of ‘success’. Success cannot be measured in a numerical number, so stop letting people try and tell you it can. Success is something which is a lot more ambiguous and something only you can define.
So as Results Day approaches, let go of the notions that a letter can define your success and can be a replacement for truly living. Be proud of the grades you receive whether these were what you initially hoped for or not. Let Results Day come and let Results Day go, and remember that what you gain from school, sixth form and beyond is a lot greater that what an single letter can ever hope to define.