Why Your Health Is More Important Than Your Grades

*Disclaimer* Please don’t take this blog post as me putting down people who do not achieve top grades, it’s not meant like this at all.

Throughout my life, I’ve been that annoying friend that gets an A instead of an A* and cries. I’m sorry, it’s just the way I am. My whole life I’ve been a perfectionist, and if it’s not the best, I’m probably going to beat myself up big time. Now, I don’t know where I get this from, as my parents have only ever asked me to try my best in school, and my mum’s favourite motto is “a C’s a pass!”. Anyway, it’s safe to say that I’ve carried my perfectionist mentality through to university- and university is tough. So far grade wise, I’ve received an A-, two B’s and a B-, and this has hit me damn hard. If you’re reading this and thinking “ugh what an idiot, I wish I had those grades”, I KNOW this. I know that it’s irrational and daft, but it’s part of who I am, and trust me- despite my best attempts, I can’t change it.

However, what I have learnt throughout my time in education is that both my mental and physical health is far more important than any grade. There was a time where 14 year old Emily was working herself to the bone to achieve 11 A*’s at GCSE. I was losing weight like it was going out of fashion, and my mental state was frankly a disaster. I finally completed my GCSE’s out of mainstream education at 16 with 2 A’s, 3 B’s and 2 C’s- both 4 less GCSE’s than I’d anticipated, and with not enough A’s for my liking. Now, looking back, I see that this was stupid. The day I collected my results I was so intensely disappointed in myself that I cried all day. This was repeated two years later when I completed my AS levels with a B, C and a D. However, due to mix up with my coursework, my English Literature coursework grade was listed as a U. Even though my overall grade in this subject was a C, and it didn’t matter in the slightest anyway, I hysterically cried for a couple of hours. I remember my mum and my English teacher looking completely dumbstruck because not only had I still passed and got an A grade on my English exam, I only cared about the U.

I realise writing this that people are going to think that I’m stupid, but this is the reality on being focused on the top. No matter how many times I try and say to myself that the grade is good, especially considering the health problems I endure whilst doing them, there’s still a little voice in the back of my head that tells me it’s not good enough.

So this blog post goes out to the people who think that they aren’t good enough, the people who try their best but they don’t feel like it’s enough. YOU ARE WORTH IT, YOU ARE BRAVE. The most important part is that you need to look after you. It’s your duty to look after your mental and physical health, and trust me when I say that these will help you far more in the future than any grade will. The other thing to remember (which nobody else will tell you) is that you have more than one chance to do your education. If you can’t manage your A-levels right now, that’s fine. You have at least another 70 years to redo your A-levels when you’re ready! Same with university, being 18 and not feeling able to go off and do a degree is FINE. There is no cut-off to university! Try again next year, and the year after, and the year after. And if you’re never ready? That’s also fine. Nobody will disown you because you don’t follow the common path, and if they do, you need to cut them out of your life.

You need to push yourself in education, of course. But not to the point where you’re pushing yourself over the edge of a cliff. In the end, you have to take control of your own life. If you need to take a break for your own sanity, do it. If you don’t want to do A-levels, you don’t have to! There are so many different options now, and you have to rely on yourself to look at all your options and make an informed choice of what’s best for you.

And more importantly, don’t beat yourself up too much if you don’t achieve that top grade.

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