22 June 2019

A-levels, The Future & Mental Health

Alas, I have well and truly neglected this blog over the past few months thanks to A-levels. I'm finally I'm back though and boy do I have an update. Exam season was... chaotic? Or perhaps I'm exaggerating? I've learnt a lot though and I know that if the right person reads this, I could stop them in their tracks before they make the same mistakes I did.

(lol update: i actually did get the grades for dentistry and i have never been more shocked in my life... i'll put up a whole post about that soon. I'm not going to delete this post though because the truth is my lack of self-confidence affects me so much and it's crazy how much i underestimate myself. It wouldn't be fair of me to only share the best parts of my life on here.)

Year 12 was when I finally decided I wanted to do dentistry. I had 5 months left until the UCAS deadline and the looming realisation that it was more competitive than medicine. Me being the ambitious person that I am decided against a gap year which meant spending the majority of the summer of year 12 getting work experience placements in as many dental environments as possible.

Then at some point in October I finally sent off my UCAS form. High GCSE and predicted grades, a UKCAT score in top 2%, 5 different work experience placements and all the extra stuff like volunteering and hobbies. Writing that all out now... yeah that sounds pretty impressive actually, but I kid you not i spent the next few weeks crying because I was convinced I wasn't good enough for an interview. I've always had a tendency to underestimate myself - I never feel like I've done well. When I got my interview offers, I was ecstatic (!!!) but now convinced I wouldn't do well enough in the interview. How could I ever possibly be in the top 40% of  all the interviewees when I'm so shy? Well... I managed to get my offers and you can guess what I was sure of next? Yeah,  'Aleeha you will NEVER get the grades'.

Now it's summer, I've sat my exams and they did not go how I wanted them to go. My predicted grades/the grades I needed for dentistry are quite likely not happening (unless I'm underestimating myself again which I'm pretty sure I'm not this time haha). I know I under-performed because I've sat enough exams now to what I'm capable of (which is not flicking through the pages of a booklet repeatedly with a frazzled brain). Also, when I say 'under-performed', just keep in mind that success is relative. I would get home from my exams and cry because I never got to try my best then worry about the next one beacuse I would have to go through those awful 2 hours again. I ended up going to doctors and was prescribed beta blockers which honestly... I can't tell you how well they worked because how are you supposed to measure your own mental stability?

 I have learnt so much  in the process though and that feels more valuable than achieving my predicted A*A*A . In fact, I can put my hand on heart say that I think I would be more happy doing optometry over dentistry because I don't think I'm cut out for such a stressful career. My happiness isn't going to depend on the career path I take or the grades I achieve and it's okay if things don't go to plan. There are always opportunities to retake exams or choose different career paths. As simple as that sounds, it's one of those things that didn't click with me. Whenever things didn't go to plan I felt like a failure, but if anything they are opportunities for growth.

If you can remotely relate, just remember that academia isn't everything! And I know it's SO hard to believe at the time, but the sooner you realise the better. Exams measure numerous factors like luck and your ability to work under pressure so don't ever use them to compare yourself to other people!

Note: I keep deleting and re-uploading this post and I feel bad every time your lovely comments get deleted so I've decided to turn off the discussion on this post for now :)