The other day I was able to do something I could only have dreamed of for the last 3 years. I burned every last one of my A level notes. Sure, there was that feeling of ‘oh, but I put so much work into them and now I’m destroying them?!’ But the overall outcome of destroying them represented something incredibly significant for me.
Blood, sweat and (a lot of) tears went into all of my A levels and out came an A, C and a D (not terrible grades but not what I wanted or needed for my next step to University) – I was hugely disappointed. In all honesty, the rejection from University and ending up having to resit the year, was probably the straw that broke the camel’s back when it came to my mental health deteriorating. Whilst I witnessed all of my friends (very deservingly, might I add) head off on their next exciting adventure, I was stuck in a school I had outgrown, living in a home full of friction, personality clashes and weekly, if not daily, arguments over the most trivial matters. I was living what had been my worst nightmare during the majority of Year 13.
During that first September there were a lot of very negative thoughts and feelings going around my head and by October I finally realised that I needed help and booked a doctors appointment. That was a year ago, and I couldn’t have even imagined I’d be where I am today, having gone through all the stresses and traumas that I have. When I was admitted to a Psychiatric Hospital in March I was convinced I’d be back to studying and off to University very soon – I had become obsessed with this idea that Uni was the only way forwards. After a couple of months there, when I realised my exams would be coming up, I had to make the decision.
To Uni or not to Uni?
It seems like such an obvious choice now but at the time I was totally split: do I start revising, preparing to go back to school, sit my exams and try to get into University as previously planned? OR do I focus on myself, getting emotionally stronger and more resilient and stop putting so much pressure on myself to have my shit together all the time? Thankfully, after a lot of debating and many lengthy conversations with hospital staff, I decided exams would be too much – I did not want to risk my mental health deteriorating again. I had to ask myself, is my poor mental health and general unhappiness worth a couple of A level grades and a degree which I’m not particularly passionate about and probably won’t end up working in that field anyway? Absolutely not.
That was probably one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life and thinking back to how difficult things were at the time, I’m quite proud of myself for finally choosing to do something which would actually make me happy. The plan now: focus on making my mental health a bit more stable then, when I’m ready, start a job in Childcare – something I’ve always loved but felt that it ‘wasn’t good enough’.
Something that will make you happy is ALWAYS good enough.
So, back to the ritualistic burning of A level work. The satisfaction I got from throwing each handful of paper, packed with illegible notes scrawled across them or a disappointing test result, on to the raging fire was just fantastic. Not only was I able to declutter my bedroom of approximately ten full ring-binders, I could finally put that dark chapter of my life behind me and start a fresh. All those late nights trying to get that essay perfect or studying until the early hours just to try to scrape an extra few percent on that Physics test I so desperately didn’t want to fail. All that, thankfully, gone for the foreseeable future. For now I’m going to enjoy my time of being free to go to bed at a reasonable time, not worrying about homework I might have forgotten, or that B grade I only just missed out on. It’s Gone. Done. Finished.
If you are still in Sixth Form/ College, doing your GCSEs or have reached University: your time will come. Your time to burn those notes, throw away the tear stained flashcards (true story), not having to study for yet another exam! It’s all there, waiting for you at the finish line.
So please don’t do something because you feel pressure from others or think ‘it’s what all my friends are doing’ or ‘it’ll make me successful financially’ aka totally loaded. I think at one point or another, we’ve all experienced thoughts like these, but it’s how you respond to them that’s really important. Do something because you enjoy doing it, are passionate about it and because YOU want to do it. Remember, you are the person who will be living with the consequences of your decision making. Afterall, its your life and nobody elses!
Go ahead. Take control.