Today is Results Day (it gets capitalised because it’s had the full Hallmark treatment) which I’d imagine is a day of complete dread for a large portion of my readership. After years of studying, sitting exams and bombarding me with banal questions, you’ve finally found out whether you’ve got the grades to go to your dream university, or whether you’re headed into clearing and the sort of university that advertises on billboards at football matches.
It’s three years since I received my A-level results. I’d love to say that I have vivid memories of the day. I’d love to say that I checked the UCAS website and leapt for joy. I’d love to say that I had a delicious lunch with my adoring family, then got drunk with my friends and the sports stars, before spending the night having passionate sex with the most popular girl in school. But that would be misremembering, not just Results Day, but my entire teenage years. The reality of getting your results is hardly as glamourous as the endless Facebook invites to ‘Resultz Day Party 2k13!!!’ would have you believe (especially if you’re like me, which most of you tumblr nerds probably are). For me, Results Day 2010 was deeply underwhelming and actually a little depressing.
In Summer 2010 I didn’t really want to go to university. I had a dream of being a filmmaker and felt that going to university would only hold me back. Perhaps this was all concocted out of a vain fear that I wasn’t going to do well in the exams, I don’t know. I had an offer from Oxford, but my AS grades weren’t very good and I hadn’t put in the necessary work to get them up to scratch. Time and time again, I had been told by anyone who could get me to listen, that I had to improve my History marks. ‘You need an A,’ they’d say, ‘and, as things stand, you’re going to get a B’. But I wasn’t really listening, and I certainly didn’t really care. What will be will be, I thought, and if I don’t end up getting that A grade, then it was because I never really wanted to go to Oxford in the first place.
And so, on this morning three years ago, I checked my results and, sure enough, there was a little ‘B’ next to my History modules. There it is. Clearly, according to my own reasoning, I had never really wanted to go to Oxford at all. I saw a vision of myself, a few years from now, as a dynamic young Englishman in Hollywood- already a staff writer on The Big Bang Theory and developing a script with Ron Howard.
Which might leave you wondering why, three years later, I’m an Oxford student, and not the third Weinstein brother. Well, it turned out that Oxford were more than reasonable about my grades. They were happy with the fact that I had tried in my exams, and gave me a lifeline. And so, rather than pursuing my wild dreams, I ended up heading to Oxford and, over the course of those years, became the sort of person who would write this post about their experience.
If this seems like an atypically earnest post, then it’s because, of all the things that have happened in my life, I am most grateful for the fact that the world didn’t allow idiotic-17-year-old-Nick to fuck up my entire future. Despite my self-indulgent sabotage, the world intervened. It’s not that my doubts magically disappeared, it’s just that I realised that I didn’t want to know that I was good enough for Oxford; I wanted to know that Oxford was willing to accepted this partially-formed, underdeveloped draft of myself.
So, if you’ve received your results today I advise you to take heed. ‘Should I celebrate or should I cry? Should I take up my offer at Nottingham or should I take a year out and reapply to Oxford?’ What you should do is think to yourself, ‘in three years time, will I be grateful for the decision that I made today?’ For me, that decision was made by some mysterious power in the universe, and I am inexpressibly glad that it was taken out of my hands. You’re 18-years-old, let’s face it: you’re probably a fucking idiot.
I hope you get lucky too and, if not, there’s always Hollywood.
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