For many students the exam process can be a swinging pendulum of emotions, as tensions rise and fall from exam prep, to receipt of results. Not long ago had delegates breathed a sigh of relief as they exit their final exam, to once again find the rising swell of anticipation surfacing as results days come into focus on the horizon. “Results, results, results;” when all around us, friends, family, school and the media are banging an anticipatory drum roll towards results day, it is easy to see how their significance and consequence can sometimes become sensationalised, magnified and distorted. Particularly when we have invested so much time, energy and headspace in them. And hinge so much on the results correlating with and exemplifying our labour.
Your results do of course play an important role in your academic and career journey. But it can be helpful to view them as a marker of your current and temporary co-ordinates, rather than a ticket to a final destination. Use them to orientate yourself and plan your journey. You may find your results deposit you on a straight, smooth and clear path; or cross-country on a more scenic and uneven trail.
We live in a world of opportunity and change, so take some time to explore your environment, your options and your strengths and resources and try to remain open to the possibilities that may unfold in time. If you see your results as a set back then try to approach them with a growth mind-set; whereby every obstruction presents you with an opportunity to learn, expand and strengthen your skills and abilities. If you believe that you can continually grow and develop, you can use any defeat as valuable feedback which, rather than defining you, helps you move closer to where you want to be.
Grades aside, the arrival of your results day is significant as it symbolises a point of punctuation in your life as one journey comes to an end and another path begins. Your results are only assessing your academic ability at a point in time and are not an accurate reflection of the physical, mental and emotional effort that you have devoted to your work, the challenges you have faced and how far you have come from when you began. Take some time to reflect on what else you have been juggling whilst studying; your mental health, relationships, finances, physical health, responsibilities and duties and commend yourself for what you have accomplished beyond the grading scale. Take some time to celebrate the end of that scheme of work, all you have given and all that you have learnt and acknowledge the new beginnings that are waiting in the wing for you.
If you do find yourself feeling disappointed with the results you have achieved, try to use these feelings to your advantage. Our emotions are incredible messengers that help guide our actions, driving change and pursuit of satisfying experience. Take some time to explore and process the emotions you are feeling to unearth what matters to you and what you want. “A certain darkness is needed to see the stars” (Osho) and so our moments of hardship and unhappiness are sometimes helpful in crystallising our goals and aspirations. As Robert Hopcke (1997) wrote, “our feelings are the mainspring of our stories and it is our feelings that drive the plot forward… and today’s setback may look quite different when the whole story unfolds”
No matter what you get, use your results day to celebrate how far you have come and to plan your next move. Your results define your current position not your worth. They put a flag in the ground where you are and become a new start line for your next adventure. Keep sight of your full story and be open and listen to whatever life presents you.
– (Mandy Hale)