GCSEs are not the end, they are a new beginning. 

I’m sat having lunch in Bath and realise that 19 years ago I was eating the same thing on the day I got my GCSE results. A ham and cheese toastie. This time it is on ciabatta. I am not sure if I had heard of ciabatta 19 years ago. 

I didn’t get what I was predicted but I did okay. I had chosen my GCSE subjects based on my desire to be a doctor, subjects that would lead me towards three science A-levels and off to medical school. I scraped through to the A-levels I wanted. 

Almost two decades later I can remember feeling a sense of relief that my life hadn’t gone of the rails. I had just about kept the train moving. My destination was set, and fortunately I’d made it through the next station. What an unhealthy way to think as a naive teenager just stepping into a world with so much to discover. 

The educational system I had come through, which I am so fortunate to have had, placed in me a sense of direction. It told me to aim at something early in life and move towards it. It felt that it was all planned out for me, I just had to stay on the tracks. I’d made my choice and I had to stick to it. 

Looking back I realise that life isn’t like a railway track at all, it’s much more expansive and exciting than that. Life isn’t a track with stations along it that we have to work hard to reach. Life is more a hike through the wide open spaces of nature, filled with thrills and dangers, wonder and doubt. It’s packed full of beauty and risk ready to be discovered. 

I set off from my GCSEs with a narrow view of where I could go, but my options were endless. There was so much of God’s great world to see. So much to discover about who I was and what I was capable of. 

There are homes around the country today filled with joy, disappointment or indifference. Many will celebrate their next step. Others feel they don’t know what’s next and some might not even care. 

There are precious young people, bursting with potential, who feel that their life has been derailed. That a list of letters that aren’t those that they had hoped for have defined their destination. Take heart, you’re full of greatness, and the world has so much to offer you. You have so much more to learn about yourself and the wonder of what you bring to the world. You’re full of imagination and creativity, invention and beauty. You will leave your mark on the world and fill the lives of others with joy. 

Today isn’t where your journey ends. You have not been derailed. You’re standing at the beginning of a great adventure filled with way more surprises than you could imagine. Today feels hard, and may take some time to get used to but I promise you there is more to come than you could ever dream of. 

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