All day I’ve seen on social media and in the news posts about GCSE results and I’ve just realised that I got my results half my life ago. I have lived as much of my life since I got my results as I had lived up until that point.
It seems mad that such a pivotal moment in my life, one that I spent so much time working towards is now so insignificant. The last time I was asked my GCSE results was when I applied for my last job – back in 2003.
But, back then, my GCSEs meant everything. I had a love hate relationship with secondary school, being bullied relentlessly but, at the same time, I loved school work, I had a thirst for knowledge, loved to read and got on well with my teachers. I knew I had it in me to do well at school and I did my best to focus on my work even at the darkest times in school.
But, the weekend before my GCSEs started my parents split up. I was devastated but threw myself into those exams like nothing else. I remember going to each exam, working my way through the questions and then spending the rest of the time picking my tie apart until it was time to leave. I knew that if I didn’t know an answer it wasn’t going to come to me and I knew that my first instinct with written exams was normally right – re-reading my answers wouldn’t achieve anything.
After that final exam I walked out of school with my head held high and my shoulders lighter than they had been in a long time. I didn’t have to see my bullies again and could focus on the next chapter of my life – college and everything that would bring, as long as I got the results I needed.
I remember results day like it were yesterday. The sun was shining and I made that journey to school for the very last time. I went by myself, picked up my brown envelope and the made the journey home again – there was no big celebration or anything, I really just wanted to distance myself from school and get on with my life.
But that envelope held the key to my future. I had somehow managed to pass my GCSEs – 2 As, 5 Bs, 2 Cs and a D. I had the grades I needed to get into college and I couldn’t wait to learn more around like minded people – ones that would see me for me.
In the end I was only at college for the first term, being kicked out of home just before Christmas. I didn’t get A-levels or go to university but, I did get those GCSEs and I am still so proud of that achievement 16 years on.
I am sure having my GCSE results helped me to get my job and move from retail to high street banking, opening up more opportunities to me in my career and teaching me so much about the world of finance.
But, for me, looking back at GCSE results day is an opportunity to see how far I have come. Half my life ago my life was only just beginning. I walked out of school into the next stage of my life – and although the following years weren’t the best, life couldn’t be better now.
At 16 life seems so long and life seems so big and scary but it goes by faster than you ever think it will. And really, it isn’t that scary – it sure is big, but it’s not scary, really. Life is there for the taking and regardless of the GCSE results you get life can be one big, fun-filled adventure – and who knows what you’ll be doing 16 years from then, where life will have taken you and what you’ll have to show for the years gone by.
I wonder what I’ll be doing in another 16 years. 48, still in the prime of my life with a 22 and 20 year old. Now, that seems so long away and such a scary prospect!