For most 18-year-olds, today will be the last time they ever step foot in their school or college. For some, this moment will be joyful and a confidence boost for the future. For others, the day may be stressful and end up in having to trawl through clearing or securing last minute accommodation at their second choice university. For me, my experience was a bizarre mix of feeling totally unbothered, disappointed and free.

My results weren’t really going to dictate which uni I was going to as I already had an unconditional offer from the only place I wanted to go. Plus I had had such a stressful two years in the sixth form that I had reached that ‘passed-the-point-of-caring’ stage by the time August came. My results were still very important to me though as I’d had a lot put way too much pressure on myself and compared myself to other people in my classes. A large part of Year 13 for me was spent trying not to compare myself to people who got better grades and not to feel in competition with classmates. My languages classes were comprised of myself and just one other pupil who consistently got top marks. When you’re in a class with someone who always gets A’s a B can feel like a failure even though I would have been delighted with that grade in other classes.

As soon as I was handed my envelope, I hurried straight home without speaking to anyone or even opening the envelope. Once I opened my envelope, I was pleasantly surprised to see I’d done better than I expected but upset knowing that doing my absolute best for the last two years wasn’t enough to earn top marks.

It took me until finishing my first year of uni to make sense of my emotions on that day. I only discovered that the classmate I felt so in competition with suffered from extreme stress to the point that they were hurting themselves. This didn’t make me feel relieved or satisfied but rather upset with the system. My revision prioritised my wellbeing and health and it still wasn’t enough for me to have been able to get into some of the Russell group universities I had researched.

Getting As and A*s isn’t worth compromising your wellbeing. So if you don’t get the grades you hoped for but you didn’t work yourself into illness then no matter what your results are, you’ve been successful.

Things don’t always work out how we wanted but I’ve come to learn that the great thing about life is that often plan B works out way better than plan A anyway.