The above picture was taken at my sixth form leavers party. We had just sat our A Level exams, had an amazing summer ahead of us, and we were all preparing to leave home and head to university in September. When results day came, however, my plans changed.
I didn't get into university.
Before the morning of results day, my plan was to attend the University of Sheffield to continue studying English Literature. I was convinced that this was the direction that my life would take, but UCAS had other ideas. I was rejected from Sheffield on A Level results day and accepted into my insurance choice instead, but to study Drama, not English. After reading this, I was expecting the worst in terms of my results. They were actually relatively good, though I couldn't help but see myself as a failure. Meanwhile, every single one of my friends had received the grades they deserved and were all accepted into university for the courses they wished to study. I was over the moon for them but disappointed in myself at the same time.
I was completely unprepared for this moment. I'd read how important it was to have a back up option, to look into clearing and to prepare for the worst. But I hadn't done any of this, so I was caught completely off guard when I didn't get the grades I'd hoped for. It took me a while to get my head around what had happened, but I quickly realised that I couldn't hide from this news. I had no choice but to decide what I was going to do next.
My immediate solution was to resit my English A Level, with a view to reapplying for my course at Sheffield for the following academic year. I told my school that this was what I wanted to do and the plans were soon set in motion. But, in another change of events, my English A Level exam was remarked and I managed to slip into the next grade boundary. I called Sheffield, asking them if they'd accept me for the following year with my revised grade and it was still a no.
I then realised that this was not the only option for me.
After receiving my new grade, I decided to have a look at different courses in different cities. Many open days later, I eventually found Cardiff, a quirky and fun city with a great university. I decided to create a new UCAS application and apply to study joint honours English, Journalism and Media here. This new course combined the subject I love with my personal interests and possible future career path; it was almost like it was meant to be! This feeling was reflected through my new application too, my personal statement came to me so naturally, and the feelings of stress and anxiety that I had experienced during my first application were now nowhere to be seen. To my delight, a month later, I was given an unconditional offer!
With my new acceptance came more impromptu plans, I decided that I was going to make the most of this (actually very needed) year out of education and go and see the world. I have just returned from a 3 month trip around the East Coast of Australia, and I'm due to spend a month volunteering in Bali this summer.
Before A Level results day, the phrase "everything happens for a reason" was a meaningless cliche for me, but it's now my life motto. If I had been accepted into Sheffield last year, I wouldn't have travelled this year, I wouldn't have found Cardiff and I wouldn't have taken time out to rest after 13 years of education and reflect on what my goals in life actually are.
Most importantly, if I had got into Sheffield last year, I wouldn't have learnt that your response to life's obstacles defines you, and that when things don't go to plan there's always another route to take.