It’s currently 1:12am. My mind is racing and although I got into bed two hours ago, my brain isn’t showing signs of switching off any time soon. So, I’ve risen restlessly from my bed to sit in front of a keyboard, my fingers exerting themselves on the keys, in the desperate hope that I will tire myself out enough to be able to go to sleep.
My predicament is not a unique one. Like many seventeen and eighteen year olds all across the country, I am nervously anticipating results day. Thursday 13th August has been marked on my calendar for months now. It’s the day of reckoning – the final hurdle in an event which has been the longest race of my life. My education has led up to this moment; the hurdles I have already jumped include my AS examinations, writing my personal statement and applying to UCAS, attending an interview at my chosen university, and sitting my A Level examinations in July this year.
Tomorrow I will receive a slip of paper which equates to who I’m going to be friends with, potentially who I’m going to marry, how likely I am to get a job as a postgraduate, as well as how much I could potentially be earning in 5 years time. Not only is it a measure of what is to come, it is a measure of what I have learnt; it tells me how the facts and quotes I ingrained into my brain fared against those which my peers scribbled down frantically, as the invigilator gave the five minute warning. That’s an awful lot of responsibility for one piece of paper, therefore it’s no wonder I’m sitting wide awake in the early hours of the morning, running through every possible outcome and stressing that things won’t work out the way I want them to.
It seems somewhat ludicrous that someone’s entire future is dependent on their performance over the course of several hours in a silent exam hall. The UK has become so exam orientated in the last few years that it feels like my personal worth is measured in grades, percentages and statistics. Of course I know that there is so much more to me than a set of results, but when surrounded by a constant stream of headlines about school performance, teaching standards and examining body competency – all of which emanate pessimism – it’s hard not to be despondent.
Although I have received all the help I could have asked for from my incredibly supportive parents and teachers, I still can’t help but feel like I’ve got the weight of the world on my shoulders. If I don’t get the grades that have been demanded of me by my chosen institution, then I feel like I may as well get the word ‘failure’ tattooed on my forehead and walk around with that for the rest of my life. The last few months have been an agonising wait, and this isn’t the only night I’ve been wide awake worrying. My only consolation is that the finish line is in sight.
Hopefully tomorrow I’ll be able to get a decent night’s sleep. Or better yet, I’ll be up all night celebrating.