On the 17th of August the A-level results will be released and for the thousands of students, it will be the day that signifies the beginning of a new chapter in their lives. Many will know where it is that they progress on to but for some, like myself, it will mark a moment of painful uncertainty.
My results were not what I was hoping for and certainly not what I was capable of obtaining. To me, at that time, that A4 piece of paper was the physical embodiment of failure not only for myself but also for my family who had been through so much in the previous 2 years. I cried. I didn’t even bother to try and get into a university because I couldn’t face the prospect of being rejected and I felt like I didn’t deserve anything else. My future felt more than uncertain, I was floating lost and rudderless in an ocean of doubt.
I was lucky enough to be surrounded by a family that is very supportive, understanding and patient. I tried to go back to school and redo my last year of A-levels at a college but I ended up dropping out because I couldn’t stay focused. I had lost my ambition, drive and energy. I managed to find a part-time job in a warehouse but it bored me to death and it was about as far removed from what I wanted to achieve in life as I could get. I did eventually go to university the following September but ended up dropping out because it was not the right degree or institution for me.
My time spent bobbing about was not time wasted though. I spent the proceeding years taking Open University courses into everything from English and philosophy to mathematics and product design. I got a job in retail and worked my way up quickly. I worked with people of all different ages and abilities who made me smile even at the end of a long day. I learnt to manage people and found out I was actually pretty good at it.
Later I would find not only the right university and right degree but also my drive, ambition and energy. That ocean was now a lake and I had a speed boat and a map on to which I could plot a course.
At the end of July was the graduation ceremonies for Loughborough and many of my fellow classmates received their degrees. It dawned on me that I too could be graduating this year, a prospect that 10 years ago I felt was hopeless, but I’m not because I still have one more year to go in order to graduate with a masters which only 3 years ago I felt was beyond my reach. As a student ambassador, I get the opportunity to work the graduation days with the events team to help students and their families have a memorable day. This mainly involves me juggling several camera phones to help take pictures of the graduates and their families around the newly refurbished fountain.
This year I met Loughborough Alumni Ore Oduba who received an Honorary Doctorate from the university “In recognition of his contribution to British television as a news and sports broadcaster” and Lord Sebastian Coe who was officially installed this year as Chancellor of Loughborough University. But the best was seeing my friends decked out in their black gowns with coloured hoods and their families all dressed up for the occasion, cameras and phones in hand to capture the moment.
Just over 10 years later, I still have that A4 piece of paper from my results day. The ink has faded a little and the edges are frayed but it’s just a piece of paper and it reminds me that it doesn’t matter where you start out, it matters where you finish and most importantly it’s about the journey along the way. I wish the best of luck to all those receiving their results. No matter what the day may bring or what path you choose to take, know that it’s just ink and paper.