A-level results day is guaranteed to make you feel old, when you realise that it was 20 years ago that the hapless indie kid who was a nascent version of Current You collected those carefully doled out pieces of paper from the college refectory.
It felt – as it will to millions of students today – like the biggest deal in the world, the deciding factor in your future life. And that’s probably truer than most 18 year olds realise. My results happily ticked the boxes for the conditional offer I had to study Peace Studies (you heard me) at Bradford. But the problem was, you see, that between completing my UCAS form and collecting my results, I’d fallen in love for the first time.
My boyfriend planned to go to London, along with various friends. I considered a life up north anew, baulked, and called Bradford from the nearest phone box. They released me into Clearing and, pretty much by holding my finger in the air, I blithely chose to study Linguistics at UCL. London calling! Language something or other! Woo-hoo! The great irony, of course, is that the boyfriend didn’t scrape into his London choice on his results and ended up in Aberdeen.
But there started the most gigantic butterfly effect. Because I chose for love, I ended up in London. Because he didn’t, I didn’t settle into my randomly selected course and hated it, so I left after a year. Because I dropped out, I got a job. Because I got that job, I got another, and another and another. Because of one of those jobs I met my ex-husband and had two amazing children. And because I love those children and want them to have the best life possible, I have now completed the circle by moving back to Somerset, twenty years after I left. And so a new life starts again.
I suppose the point is, for those collecting A-level results, or waiting for a conclusion or trying to make a decision, don’t sweat it. Everything you do can affect what happens next, but you never can plot these things out exactly. And you know what? If you choose for love, good stuff follows, even if if works out nothing like you imagined. Trust yourself, trust love (and it takes a lot for me to say that right now, but that’s another story) and trust in the future. You’re making it happen, even if it doesn’t feel like it.