Teenagers in many families will be holding their breath next week. It is results week for GCSEs and for A Levels, and the results received will affect college and career choices for many.
In my day, there was no email, of course, nor were we given the option of popping into our school for our results, so we had to wait the extra two days it took for a letter to arrive.
I had decided even before my O level choices that I wanted to try for Vet School. I knew that the statistical chances were low that I would get in. I was a girl, and it was still rare then for women to become vets. I had not been brought up on a livestock farm (a huge advantage as vetting in those days was still very farm orientated), nor had I ever owned my own ponies. My family did not even have a pet. I knew I was at a serious disadvantage.
But there was a tremendous determination within me to join a profession which dedicated their time to caring for creatures who could not speak up for themselves. I adored animals, still do, and cannot abide them being in trouble or pain. I knew I had to work really hard to overcome my lack of a suitable background.
I can still recall the morning that my results were due. I came downstairs as soon as I heard the postman deliver. We had pre-commute postal deliveries in those days! My family tactfully were keeping to the kitchen. I stood by the front door, sunlight streaming in from the full length window beside it, which my brother had recently cracked with a misdirected hockey ball.
I held the envelope up, knowing that nothing I did now could change what was inside, but quivering with the awareness that this was a make or break moment. I had studied so hard, missed so many social opportunities, resisted the urge to leave my studies and kick back. Now I would find out if it all had been enough. Was I going to be good enough?
With a huge deep breath I opened it up to find a terse typed note. Sweat broke out on my brow: it was enough! I could go on to A levels with my dreams still intact.