You are more than a GCSE grade.
It’s GCSE day and many of you will have been filled with anxiety waiting for your results. You’ve probably opened them now and know what you have achieved. Or what you haven’t achieved. You’ll be excited about enrolling at sixth form or college or your apprenticeship. Or you’ll be trying desperately to figure out what you are going to do next. It will feel like the biggest and best (or worst) moment of your life. But know this: those results do not define you.
Those results do not acknowledge you battling through education in the throes of puberty. They do not acknowledge your parent’s divorce this year. They do not acknowledge your eviction. They do not acknowledge the abuse you suffer every day. They do not acknowledge your family’s financial issues. They do not acknowledge the bullying you have experienced throughout school. They do not acknowledge your physical or mental health difficulties. They do not acknowledge your sexual assault. They do not acknowledge the death of someone you love. They do not acknowledge your first heartbreak this year. They do not acknowledge the weight of expectation put upon you. They do not acknowledge the weight of people’s disappointment in you.
You are 16 years old and you have already achieved so much. Turning up to school every day exhausted, hurt, heartbroken. You have still attended classes. You have studied and tried to revise. You went to your school to sit your exams and you have results from doing that. The grades you receive today are about the education you have received. Nothing else. They do not define you.
The sleepless nights, the anxiety, the fear; they do not define you.
The fail, the lower grade, the missed exams; they do not define you.
What defines you is your strength. Your bravery. Your resilience. Your fucking happiness.
What defines you is turning up to lessons every week when the numbers don’t make sense and words fly around the page. What defines you is the dignity you behaved with when your parent’s were screaming at each other every night. What defines you is overcoming every odd to be the most incredible young person you can be.
What defines you is what you do next.
So if your grades weren’t quite what you wanted today, it doesn’t matter. You are sixteen. Of the thousands of people I have met in my life, I only know two who are doing now what they wanted to do when they were sixteen. Most of you will get to past thirty and you still won’t know what it is that you want to do. And that is ok.
You might resit exams this year. You might resit them when your thirty six. You might never resit them because you don’t want to or don’t need to. You might go to sixth form. You might start an apprenticeship. You might go to college. You might go out to work full time. Pick whichever option makes you happy. And if you get half way through the year and KNOW that you made the wrong decision, change it. While you’re young enough to easily change your career path.
Find the confidence and strength to figure out what you want to do and chase that dream with the tenacity you are known for. Look at the people around you, your support network, and identify what makes them happy. Know what makes you happy.
An A or a D has no impact on your long term happiness. You are the biggest impact on your happiness. Celebrate your results or mourn them, your life starts here.
Have a crack at every job you can to figure out what you want to do. Travel. Think outside the box. Meet new people. Read everything. Listen to music. Take your shoes off and go outside. Dance in the street. Jump in the sea. Build a sandcastle. Sleep under the stars. Love so hard you think your heart might break. And when it does break, keep loving that hard. Throw yourself at everything (and everyone!) you want to. Be brave. Be confident. Be happy.
Make your own path in this world, it’s the only path that matters.
Exam results helpline (UK): 0800 100 900
Open between 8am and 10pm and available for both students and parents.
Samaritans: 116 123