Dear younger Mollie,
I’m writing to you, the sixteen-year-old girl who feel like her entire world has ended and her dreams are shattered. The girl who has just gotten out of a sort-of relationship, her first ever romantic type experience, had just found out she had failed the majority of her A-Levels told that ‘maybe university isn’t the path for me or best suited’ despite university being the dream you’ve held so dearly since you were twelve, all in the same month. You begged for the college to give you a second chance. They flat out refused and told you to look elsewhere or find another career path. Worried, Mum and Dad took to you on a family camping trip but you’ve spent a whole camping trip with your family to your favourite place, crying in the caravan bed, not going outside and generally feeling shitty. Shitty about yourself, missing someone and feeling completely heartbroken over the fact you have failed and have essentially been ‘kicked’ out of college. The future looks bleak, you have no idea what to do or what your purpose is. Heartbreak is a real bitch.
This letter is here to tell you that it gets better. It’s a cliché saying, something you as a sixteen-year-old would have probably cynically rolled your eyes at thinking she knows better, but it’s true. I promise.
A few days into the camping trip, you decide to get out of bed, finally brush your hair and get dressed. You have a good few last days of the holiday with your friends and make friends that you still have on Facebook. However, when you got home, the future felt bleak again. The camping trip had simply been a temporary veil over your problems and worries and reality hit you like a ton of bricks. You cried some more, isolated yourself in your room again. Feeling completely worthless and hopeless until your Mum suggested another nearby college. You refused. You didn’t want to go anywhere, you just wanted to wallow in self-pity (which is ok sometimes!), but Mum is just as stubborn as you are (and you still are… six years later!) and forced you to go. You thought about wanting to maybe to hairdressing, even though your heart wasn’t in it, you just wanted your Mum and Dad to shut up and let you go back home to devour Ben and Jerrys. That was, until you came across a stall with a tutor on it. You spoke to him, and something clicked. You decided to enrol, what was there to lose? But the truth is – that moment you enrolled was the best thing you ever did.
In terms of college, you passed with a D*DD in the new college. A grade that got you into your first-choice university. You worked extremely hard and ended up with a grade good enough for a high achievers scholarship and you move into university. You fall in love with your course, the lectures and the modules you chose over the three years. You make a ton of new friends, some of them that you know will be friends for life. Some you still talk to everyday despite graduating. You even got involved with a sports team! I know that sounds hard to believe because you are literally the least sporty person ever and you hate sports, but you do. You pushed yourself out of your comfort zone. You have the best memories (some are a little hazy because of the drinking, but still) and really, the best three years of your life. You ended up graduating with a first-class degree (even in the midst of a global pandemic…) and have been accepted to do an MA at your first-choice university for postgraduate study, preparing to do a PhD as well. Not bad for someone who was told that university ‘maybe isn’t the best path’, right?
The purpose of this letter is to remind you that failure and rejection always happens. It happens then, it’s happened in between the ages of sixteen to twenty-two, and it will continue to happen. It’s life. The difference is, you learn and grow to realise that failure and rejection happens, shit happens, but you can pick yourself up – in time, it’s ok to grieve or cry over failure – and kick arse at whatever is next. You’ve done it before and you can do it again.
“The last six years are proof that failure isn’t the end of the world”
it’s a small trip into whatever journey life is taking you in, and it can actually be the best thing to happen to you. I tell anybody who asks, failing my A-Levels was the best thing that ever happened to me. It allowed me to grow into the person I am today, have an amazing time at university and realise the career I want to pursue. There is every chance that things could have been completely different if I didn’t fail my A-Levels. I may not have had the memories I have, may not have felt the feelings I had and become the woman I am today. That’s not to say life is perfect, there have been hardships, failures, stress and tears. But all of those have led to this moment right now. The woman writing this letter to her sixteen-year-old self isn’t wishing that she could shield her younger self from the pain and disappointment she felt at sixteen, but rather, she’s looking back at everything as a life lesson and believes that some things happens for a reason, big or small. And she’s excited for the future that lies ahead of her, whatever it holds for her, good or bad. Because she knows she is strong enough to take whatever comes at her. Enjoy the next six years, you’re going to have so much fun the best is yet to come!