Whether you're leaving secondary school, college, or university - we can all appreciate that we are living through uncertain times. However, it is important to be optimistic about the future and follow your own unique path.
Here is some advice that I would have appreciated when I was about to, or had just left a form of education.
Ceelllebrate good times, c'mon!
You did it!
You've finally finished another chapter in your life. I hope you've enjoyed the journey, because you're not getting that time back.
You should be extremely proud of yourself for coming so far already. The education system, especially during the exam period, can be immensely stressful for all students.
The good news is you've done it, and you can look forward to chilling out and not feeling guilty about binging that Netflix series.
Appreciate how much you have grown and developed over the years - what are you most proud of?
Grades aren't everything
The amount of hours I would spend stressing about being a straight A student is more than I would like to admit.
I was definitely not an extremely gifted child when it comes to academia, however with my determination and hard work backing it - I was able to do okay in school. If you would like to know more about my secondary school experience, click here.
I think what many of us don't realise, is that is so much more to life than Maths, English and Science.
The education system will always favour subjects which are easily assessed and more academic - and that's amazing if you want to become a lawyer, teacher, or a doctor. But what about all the other children, like myself, who wanted to build their own careers from the ground up, or kids who wanted to be performers, or anything outside the curriculum at all?
So, please know that your grades are not the end-all-or-be-all when it comes to the real world.
I know your teachers and lecturers may be scaring you, saying that you won't be able to get a well paying job in the future, to support your family, and retire happily.
But what about your dreams? Your goals and aspirations? You don't need a piece of paper telling you that you can do algebra to follow your passions in life.
However, I still believe you should be dedicated to your studies, and try your absolute best in everything you do. But don't stress yourself out - if you've tried your best, you should be proud of yourself.
Results day is stressful
If you have already experienced a results day, you will know it's hell on earth.
But here are a few of my tips for results day:
Get an early night
... or at least try.
I know how much we anticipate results day, but I think it's important to treat it like a normal day - this will make you feel more grounded and know that these results are not life-or-death.
Surround yourself with your friends and family
Having a support system on results day can really help you process your emotions. But please don't bring anyone along who you think may judge you. You want to create a safe and comfortable environment.
Open your results in private
No matter how cute you might think opening your results together may be, don't do it.
You have no guarantee that you will get the results that you are expecting. Your results may be much better or worse than you initially anticipated.
So many people feel emotional after opening their results, so give yourself some time to process them - and then you can share them with your close ones.
(Also, to all the schools/colleges/universities who film innocent students opening their results for the first time, what are you doing? Get out!)
Don't compare yourself to your classmates
I know it's so easy to ask your friends how they did on the final exams, but ask yourself, why are you asking?
Most of the time when we ask someone about their grades, we are looking to, or subconsciously comparing yourselves to others. If you did better than someone, you'd feel good - but if you did worse, you would feel like someone just misgendered you (aka, not great).
Comparing yourself to others is a viscous cycle, and most of the time, we don't even know we're doing it. Who cares what Karen got on the paper 1 biology exam? Do you? Because I couldn't care less about Karen - that's her life, not mine.
If you genuinely care about someone, and you want to know how they performed in the exam - don't ask them "what did you get?", instead, ask "how do you feel about your results". This shows that their grades are not important to you, and you are not trying to compare yourself to their performance. You are simply there to support them if they feel that they did not do well, or celebrate with them if they are happy with their grades.
So, you've got your results.
We all have plans for the future.
A lot of students (especially those leaving college), will have grades which they need to achieve in order to get into higher education or an apprenticeship.
Some may be taking a gap year, going straight into employment or even the army.
The future is unexpected, you cannot predict what the future holds for us. So my advice would be to expect the unexpected. The skill of adapting your plan and your mindset is very important. Let's face it - what if you don't get into university? What if you can't find a job? Or what if you can't get into the army?
Always have a plan. Several plans.
There is a world of possibilities out there
You should do so much after leaving formal education. The only limitations are how hard you work for them.
Don't set aside your dreams of starting your own bakery because it's "impractical". Follow your dreams, because the only regrets we have is not what we have done*, but what we haven't done.
(*unless you're a criminal, otherwise - I hope you do regret your actions).
I always wanted to go to university, and I am so happy that I am studying my dream cosmetic science course . But I haven't stopped there.
University has been, and remains my priority - however, I have also focused my attention on developing my own personal skills. There is only so much that formal education can teach you, you need to discover and hone your own skills by learning 'in the field'.
What I really want you to take away from this, is that you are worth more than just what a piece of paper tells you, and that education happens everywhere. Never stop learning, and follow your passion.