The doorbell rang. A smallish, friendly, older man was at the door with a big bouquet of fragrant lilies: for me! A little card accompanied them from my parents who were at a conference in the States while my sister and I looked after our cousin’s new baby in NI. I closed the door and “bawled my eyes out” for the 4th time that morning.
Earlier, I had logged on to UCAS to find that my 3 predicted A’s were nowhere to be seen. Instead, I actually managed to get a D in the subject I wanted to study at Uni. I was 18, there was no hope, my world had crashed.
Turned out this was one of the perils of joining a new A-level programme in a non-UK country. We had been the guinea pigs in an exciting project, but we hadn’t been taught the right things.
That was AS-level year. On return to Geneva, my parents and I met with the principal who ensured us he would provide all the help I needed to redeem my grades and get into a good University (English at Cambridge dreams were, from then on, ignored). Lots of hard work that year restored a little hope of that happening.
Things don’t always go to plan. Disappointment is bitter. University is a very big step in someone’s life, and it can sometimes feel like the only door that might open, anywhere, ever.
I didn’t get the grades I wanted, and I didn’t get into the University I initially wanted. But results came, and though they weren’t the exact combination my offer asked for, I got into Queen’s anyway – for a different course to what I had originally dreamed of. And it was brilliant. I loved (most of the time) the course, I loved the social life, I loved discovering Belfast. After Queen’s I did a PGCE at Canterbury Christchurch University, and not once did my awful AS-level grades come up. (And also, I am now in my dream job which neither degree has actually qualified me for, and I had to remind myself of the whole palava (palaver?) because it now seems so distant and insignificant.)
Although, maybe it wasn’t insignificant. Maybe the things that happen outside our ‘plan’ are actually the best things. Not just in how they turn out, but for the journey they take us on. Mum used to remind us often that what we did or where we were wasn’t as important as who we were and who we became in the process.
And yeah, ‘Plan B’ was incredible.
You might be celebrating your results this morning and feeling excited about Plan A coming true: congratulations!
You might be watering flowers with your tears, like I was (careful: tears are salty, so probably not that great for flowers in the long run)…apparently results have taken a little dip this year. Rest assured that your life is not over. Plan B often turns out to be better than Plan A. And the world is an exciting place, filled with endless opportunities and new discoveries just waiting for you somewhere down the path.
You are safe. You are OK. Your life isn’t over. It’s going to be wild.
“Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid.”
Ps: here’s a wee post with a few tips I gleaned from my time at Queen’s. Pay special attention to the one in which I recommend not being a caterpillar.
Pps: if you still aren’t feeling better, here is an (albeit blurry) photo of how big my hair was on the first day of AS-levels. LOL.