Thursday, 13 August 2015

Fuckin' A

Today is, as every major news outlet will tell you, A-Level Results Day - the day when students leaving school get their papers, weep hysterically and then go home to face a barrage of comments from the media about how exams are getting too easy these days and that everyone who goes to school is a delinquent anyway. They're about to go on to do three years of a subject they'll possibly hate, then be thrust into Real Life where nobody will give them a job because they are overqualified, and will never be able to afford anything.

So much fun.

In retrospect, I didn't do too well with whatever academic potential I had. I was told, over and over again, that I'd be a high achiever throughout school, and although I cried for three days straight after getting my GCSE results (two A*s, three As and 4 Bs), they weren't bad results - I just knew I was capable of doing much better. I took my ASs just after the AS system had come in, and because that system was new, I got pathetically average grades - B, C, C, E - and the comment from my mother:

"Well, I wish I could say well done, but I can't. That's not well done."

I worked hard during my final year, knowing that I had to go to university and - due to my grades - being rejected from all of them, despite being told, two years earlier, that I was headed for Oxbridge. I retook two ASs, pushing my final grades up, and ended up getting into the only university that offered me a place - despite relatively disappointing (yet pleasingly alphabetical) A2 grades (A, B, C, D) as well.

I could have done more.

Hindsight Man comes into play here, telling me that I should have pushed harder to get into other universities. I didn't want to take a gap year, so that was out of the question, but I could have tried other things. I could have told the lady at UEA who called me to tell me my grades were too poor that I was retaking a lot (I didn't have space on my UCAS form to mention that!). I could have looked through Clearing and called some places on results day before accepting the one I'd been offered. Whatever the reason, I ended up at a university I didn't like. I did all three years - and ended up with an OK degree - but didn't have the best of times, really.

The reason, if indeed there was a reason, was that I'd kind of checked out.

For most of my A2 year, I'd been in a relationship with Rebecca, and I'd been focused almost entirely on the blur of love, sex and kitchen fudge that that relationship afforded me. I went to see her almost every weekend and didn't have much remaining time for coursework (in fact, I did about 90% of my A2 work at school, spending study periods and breaktimes in the library). Desperate to prove myself, I plowed all my effort into my schoolwork in the limited time I had available, dashed to the Midlands to sleep with my girlfriend, and bashed out all my whiny self-doubt and wistful romantic moonings onto my proto-ILB blog in the evenings.

But I think it's fair to say that my attention had shifted. After six years of almost constant crushes - although some were fairly long-term, but nevertheless - it was my turn to actually havesomeone. It just wasn't timed well and I could have coped better with managing myself in order to actually feel successful in my life.

Lord knows it'd have been the only time so far.

In any case, I was dumped about two months after starting at university for reasons still unspecified, but by this point I thought I may as well stay where I was. So I did.

Unlike the idiots who I see writing letters to the media every year on this day, I have insane amounts of respect for students getting their A-Level results. You hear about students getting really high results but bemoan the amount who don't, but there's a vague middle region who nobody ever reports upon - those who achieve intermediate results, good enough to go to university but not stellar for whatever reason. Despite indications to the contrary, this group included me - uncertain, scared, feeling unwanted by universities and inferior to my peers, and fixated on a person who was 100 miles away from me most of the time.

Add that to all that's going on at 18, including rapid development both physically and mentally, a sexual nature that is probably completely askew at this point and the feeling that one is about to tumble into the unknown at any point, and I think it's a wonder than anyone can keep it together enough to take A-Levels at all.

Nobody talks about that.

But it happens.

No comments: