On the 5th July 2006 the bottom fell out of my world. The 5th July was to me what the third Thursday in August is to A Level sitters. Judgement day. I left high school with good GCSE's and when I picked up the college prospectus I couldn't pick just 4 AS/A Levels, there was just so much that looked interesting. Tucked in the back half of the prospectus was a course that would let me keep my diversity and do loads of subjects. While all of my friends went off to do A levels, I enrolled on a course none of them had heard of and prepared myself to study the equivalent of 8 A Levels. In hindsight, I may have been a little crazy and a slight sucker for punishment. What can I say, I'm never one to take the easy route. 5th July is the International Baccalaureate results day. The results come out on the IB website at a certain time of day. I was feeling fairly confident because despite a few hiccoughs, a chemistry tutor and a swap of subject levels, I had worked my socks off, why shouldn't I have the results I deserved? That's how it worked, right? I needed 655 in my highers. I got 644. A black hole opened in my stomach, white noise filled my head and through the tears I squinted at the figures on the screen, trying to make them change to be what I needed.
It actually felt like my world ended. I had worked so hard and I hadn't gotten the grades. Maybe I wasn't good enough after all. I had been in slight disbelief when the Connexions career test said I should be a Doctor, as it hadn't ever entered my head. Since then it had always been in the back of my mind there was no way I was clever enough. This just proved it. Telling my family I had failed was hard. They'd been so proud I got a place at medical school and I'd let them all down (apart from Dad, because I was the first from his side of the family to stay on at school past 16, so he was proud of me just for going to college). I went off to Uni in September to my insurance choice: same uni, different course. I sat on the bus on the way to lectures listening to the medics laughing about how they weren't going to that lecture because they were too hung over and they weren't doing that essay because they couldn't be bothered. I hated those bus journeys. What I wouldn't give to be in their shoes.
I wouldn't change my path to medicine for anything. It all worked out in the end. I met my wonderful boyfriend, got involved in new sports, considered other career options I hadn't dreamt of before, tried my hand at research and thoroughly enjoyed it, found out just how far I can push myself until I physically break and how to cope with continuing to work whilst broken, met fantastic friends, got all my partying done and learnt to settle down and work when I cannot stand the subject material I'm working on because I can see the long game. Most importantly I think, I learnt to value my place. I had to work harder for it than I ever imagined when I first applied in October 2005, and having felt both the elation of an unconditional and the despair of an unsuccessful I will never forget how gutted the 16 other people I fought off to get my place must have felt.
So, if you opened your results envelope yesterday and didn't get what you were hoping for, take some time for yourself to re-evaluate, look at the new opportunities that are open to you and really think about what you want to do with your future. Perhaps you've been a little too focussed on one thing for so long you hadn't thought of all the other things you'd be really good at and could enjoy doing. If med is all you want to do after thinking through that then don't give up. Keep working until you've exhausted every opportunity and you really are down to your last shot. Each knock back should only make you stronger. You know you can do it, you know it's for you, you just have to convince other people. It will mean plenty of dog work on volunteer work experience and all-nighters writing essays about topics you couldn't care less about, but if you want to, you can focus and get done what needs to be done to achieve your goals.
If you got your results and you are going to medical school in September then congratulations, but the hard work starts now. Don't forget the people who weren't as lucky as you, those who got unsuccessfuls or lower grades, because you now have to work to show you deserve the opportunity you were given. There are many others who would have your spot in a heartbeat and you'd be surprised how quickly you forget how difficult it was to get in and how stressed you were during the application cycle waiting for the magic words on Track. Apart from that, have fun celebrating and packing. My top tip: take a door stop and biscuits to help you make friends with housemates when you first move in.