It’s A level Results Day again which is one of the most stressful days of any student’s life. The ideal scenario (the one we all want) is that we arrive at school, open our envelopes, see the grades we expected or better and rejoice because now we can enjoy the rest of the day. Unfortunately, that isn’t the experience for everybody and that included myself one day in August 2014.
Making my A-level choices with the Bar in mind
I’ve talked about this before quite a few times but I have wanted to be a barrister since I was a child. This meant that when I made my A-level choices I made them as someone who knew they wanted to become a barrister in the future. In an #AskBATB live stream that I did two weeks ago I had a question from a young man in Year 10 who wanted to know what he could do to prepare for a future career as a barrister at his stage. The advice I had to give him included being intentional over his A-level choices because they could matter in the future.
My options in the end were English Literature, History and Spanish. I wanted to learn Spanish because I have been doing it in my previous school that I left in Year 9 and I wanted to have something that could help open doors for me internationally. I worked super hard on all of my classes and did my absolute best in my coursework to get as close to 100% as was possible. I can’t recall what I got in English Literature but it was high, and in History I was given 99%.
The overachiever fails to achieve
That should give you an idea of the kind of student I was. I strive for perfection in all of my work and getting the best grades possible was exceptionally important to me. So you can imagine my sadness and disappointment when instead of getting the 3 A stars that I had aimed for, I got AAB. This would’ve been fine had it not been for the fact that my first choice university rejected me for an AAA offer. The was the university that I chosen on the basis that it was a top three university and although I didn’t get into Oxford after my interview I could still become a barrister because I would’ve gone somewhere very prestigious. For more on why I had that mindset (which has definitely changed since then) read my post ‘London: Should I stay or should I go?’
The worst day of my life
So there I found myself at around 8am learning the news that not only had I not gotten the grades that I had been predicted but also I had no university to go to. This was not ideal for somebody who aspired to become a barrister knowing full well that where you go is essential to some within the profession. What made things even worse was that there were people in my Sixth Form who disliked me enough to go to social media and create posts mocking me because I didn’t get into my first choice university. I can’t possibly imagine what would be going through the minds of people who would do something like that. What I do know is that they were some serious haters.
Irrespective of how stupid (and no doubt envious) they were, the experience still stuck with me and it meant that when I did end up getting a place from an excellent university (the University of Warwick) for exactly the same course I couldn’t fully enjoy it. I had been so focused on the ideal outcome that I described at the start of this post that I felt like a failure. I carried that bad energy with me to university and anything that wasn’t a perfect grade (read: first class) felt like failure to me. Although I was blessed enough to have so many different achievements and opportunities all of it was saturated in an overwhelming feeling that I had failed because things had not gone the perfect way back on A Level Results day.
Diamonds are formed under pressure
In many ways I’m grateful for the difficulty that the GDL and the BPTC presented for me. Those two years reminded me that the perfect ideal scenario isn’t the same thing as the reality that you’re in and if you don’t focus your mind on the present, everything that you’re aiming for will always be out of your reach. I also learned that the opinions of other people have absolutely no influence over what you will go on to do. I am a great example of this because those people who mocked me about not getting into my first choice university are silent now. At only 23 I’ve achieved things that I couldn’t even imagine achieving in 2014.
Focus on your future self
This should go to show you that no matter how your A-level Results Day goes, the space that you’re in at this moment isn’t the final moment. There are going to be hundreds of other opportunities coming your way. If, like me, your ideal scenario didn’t happen that’s the advice I want you to hold onto. Think beyond the situation you’re currently in. Think of yourself three or four years down the line after you’ve graduated, maybe even having finished a year abroad somewhere. What do you want for yourself? Because everything that you do from now until you get your final results confirmation before your graduation is being done for that person. Focus on that person that you will be at the end and not where you are now. Out of chaos can still emerge beautiful things that you should be endlessly proud of.
Good luck and I’ll be here for you!
Good luck and if you are an aspiring barrister then I will always be here to support you and help you out. If you have any questions about becoming a barrister that you have following your A-level results then tune into my weekly #AskBATB live stream on Tuesdays at 7 pm.
Until next time,