Anticipating the dreaded A-level results

"Will I meet university offer?" I wonder as I wrestle between hope and fear on result day. The day is filled with emotions: expectation, terror, tension and relief.

Taha Kerar August 13, 2010
A vague disturbance settles in the night before results are announced. Sleep has evaded me completely but its absence fails to takes its toll. I browse the web with bated breath, conducting searches for "Cambridge International Exams A-levels" on Google and find nothing of substance - just a link to the CIE website, an examination schedule and a discussion on ‘CIE vs. the IB’. As my fears spread I logged on to to Facebook and was greeted by a message in my inbox:
Results tomorrow at 11:00

I felt revitalized as the threat of failure ebbed into a void.

But then, in that indeterminate state between recovery and absolute composure, I succumbed to an equally puzzling concern. Why had I chosen to appear online on Facebook chat when any doubt could trigger tension?

"Checked your UCAS track?’ a friend inquires through a window that emerges suddenly on my screen.

I was astounded by my sheer lack of competence and with much disquietude, check my university status. No updates. In fact, the ‘track’ was as stagnant as when I accepted university offers. I began to wonder if something had gone wrong.

"What if,"I pondered, "I haven’t met my offer? What if my results are as bad as I fear they might be?"

Terror lurks in my midst and there is no way of escaping it. I have no choice but to surrender. There is a force trying to pull me out of this cynical dominion. I suspect t that it is optimism but it is, in essence, something stronger. It creeps into my mind at the oddest of moments and purges away uncertainty over the harrowing ‘what-if?’. The contravening force swings me through eagerness and despair, enabling me to experience both emotions.

As I abandon my computer screen and slide into a cozy bed I speculate the cause of this contradiction . The thought lingers in my mind as I struggle to sleep. And then, as a warm drowsiness enters my mind, the magic word strikes me: expectation. I steadily begin to realize that it is the fear of the unknown that has prodded such conflicting emotions. Slumber sets in briskly after this searing realization hits  me. Eventually, I manage to dream.

The next morning, I was overwhelmed by similar feelings. Strangely enough, the insight that had lulled me to sleep the previous night was now forgotten.

By eleven o'clock, I walked into an auditorium and realized how vulnerable a moment this is. People around me were either too numb to speak or too frightened to care about what lies ahead. The first person that emerged in my line of vision was a friend I have grown to admire for her resilience. She exited the auditorium, tear-hazed and shaken and I was reminded of how fearful she had been to receive her result.

It occurred to me that this feelings of uncertainty was shared unanimously this time of year. I occupied a seat in the first row and the uncertainty grows lethal. A thudding sensation streams through my body. Fortunately, I hear a familiar voice whisper, ‘Taha! Come sit here!”

I sauntered towards the vacant seat next to my friend.

‘Frightened?’ she asked me, a smirk pasted on her face.

‘Very! I need to meet that bloody offer!’

‘I couldn’t care less,’ she remarked, somewhat coldly, ‘what’s done is done! There is nothing we can change about it!’

Just then, a cluster of girls waddled past us, shouting elatedly, ‘Four A's!’

I felt the urge to scream along with them – in agony, not with joy. But somehow, all prospects of such disruption are shattered when my friend insisted we stand in the line to collect our results. I followed her to the queue.

The act of inscribing a signature against your name printed in black and then being handed flimsy pieces of paper is dreadfully slow-paced. It adds tension to an already startling situation. I tried to contain the urge to twist away from the queue but, upon failing miserably, turned away and walked towards the row of empty seat before me. "Perhaps it is best to procrastinate," I thought. It could be a particularly therapeutic way of resigning oneself to what lies ahead. However, as I drifted away from the line, I heard the voice that would strengthen my resolve and help me overcome my fear.

‘Did you meet your offer?’ it chimed excitedly.

I shook my head, explaining that I had yet to stand in the queue and then hurriedly positioned myself at the front of the line.

All I recall now is signing against my name, gazing at the document before me, beaming at it with pleasure and realizing the futility of the tension, uncertainty and fear.
Taha Kerar A blogger on social events and has previously worked as Assistant Editor for a media magazine. He is currently pursuing Law Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies. He tweets @TahaKehar.
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