It’s been a year since I collected my final A Level results. A year since this post. A year since everything felt uncertain and unclear. A year since I felt so terrified of what was to come. A year ago I was still struggling with myself.
On the day I woke up to find out I was going to Canterbury Christchurch University, something that still makes me proud because I never thought I’d do it. Originally I differed my application, because I thought my mental health was too bad to throw myself into this completely different world with more deadlines and pressures and new people who I thought wouldn’t like me. But after the new year I brought it forward in the early months of 2016 and felt this rush of motivation – I would get better, I would go to University, I would make my family proud, I would make friends who thought like me and would support me even if it did get too much sometimes. And I did.
The previous year I’d scored A,B,B for my AS’s and was on track for the same for my A2’s. When I actually got my grades last year, I was heartbroken. I’ve always been a high achiever, even with my anxieties and everything that’s tested me. I’d worked so hard to achieve the best of my ability. The best of my ability was B,C,C. My grades were below what I should have got to be offered a place but I’d been offered a place anyway. So somehow, in my twisted, anxious mind that was just not good enough. The best of my ability was not good enough.
I had ignored my mental health so badly whilst at school that the sleepless nights, the uncontrollable panic attacks and the nights feeling so completely awful had added up without me realising. I should have been proud to have my place. I should have forgotten all about the actual grades and focused on the journey ahead of me. But I couldn’t. I felt like I’d betrayed myself and had let myself down even though I knew I had shown enough potential to be at University anyway.
‘…I set high expectations for myself and I failed to meet them. I’m kind of surprised I got accepted now, although I tell myself I’m talented and they want me for my creativity not for my grades… I always wonder if I didn’t have anxiety, if I was a calm person, would I have reacted in the same way? Probably not. Me without anxiety would tell you that I’m proud of myself and I passed despite all the crap the universe threw at me this year. I like being that girl…’
Looking back now I wish I could talk to myself and tell a younger (well only 18) me that everything would be okay. If I hadn’t brought my application forward I wouldn’t have done so many amazing things. I wouldn’t be writing this now. I wouldn’t be the amazing person I know I am today.
I was terrified because it was a new place with new people – not an ideal situation for me. But I found my friends – Monique, Mill, Matt and Will who care about me unconditionally. I learned how to deal with people who don’t like me or who treated me badly. I felt overwhelmed being on campus but eventually it felt more like home. I found comfort in certain places – the benches to wait for my friends, B and Nat’s flats to have a laugh and make some awful dinner, town at lunch to find the cheapest meal we could all agree on. I loved learning. I loved creating. I found my self-worth.
I worked so hard on myself, because I went to uni in 2016 and I am so thankful for it. So much had to happen to make me the person I am today that I truly believe if just one thing had changed, my life would be so different. I am so glad I brought forward my uni application and if anything, my mental health is better for it.
Everything about me is 100 times stronger and more determined and it’s all because of results day. Yes, 18 year old Elana, you will still have a bad day every now and then. Your anxiety and depression will follow you every step of the way but you’ll do amazing things despite that and make yourself so proud. And in the end, you’ll forget about your grades entirely – they just don’t matter.
I sincerely hope that everyone got exactly what they wanted this year if they worked as hard as they could for it. Just remember that your grades don’t matter, they’re just numbers and letters on a piece of paper. Everything that makes you you is more important. Keep high expectations for yourself and constantly challenge yourself but be more than the grade. Everything has only just begun.