Waiting in uncertainty is like treading water in the middle of the ocean. Swimming towards land, without knowing where land is, can use up your energy and put you in a dire position. Stay where you are and then your only means of survival is dependent on others. How will they see you in this expansive ocean? So you stay upright, head bobbing, arms and legs flailing, heavily breathing, waiting for a sign.
If 2020 had to be described in one word, it would be unprecedented – a period of uncertainty; a time that has never been known before. With uncertainty comes a lack of control as you lose the ability to plan the unknown. The pandemic heightened uncertainty in March as schools closed for the first time since they opened.
Suddenly, hundreds of thousands of children all around the world were drastically transitioned to alternative means of learning. Without a strict schedule surrounded by peers, many families moved to online learning, with children only seeing their teacher through a screen. By the start of June, schools began to re-open, although it was only voluntary and for certain year groups. Before the pandemic, could you ever imagine your teacher telling you that you don’t have to come in?
For year 11 and year 13 this meant a cancellation of exams. Months, maybe even years, of studying were built up to what felt like nothing! Looking back now, many can say that school wasn’t a waste of time. Through choosing GCSEs and A-levels you were able to find your passion and learn to work towards something in order to be rewarded in the long-term.
In light of this, what I have learnt from the pandemic is the importance of hindsight. It has taught me that uncertainty is a natural part of life, and without uncertain times you won’t grow as a person. Without the unknown, you wouldn’t be able to adapt. Yes, change is scary, but sometimes it is for the better and sometimes it is needed – even if you don’t realise it in the moment.
However, another wave of uncertainty is approaching the younger generation. On the 4th of August, Scottish teenagers received their exam results. Similar to those in England, students who would have sat an exam are now receiving a calculated grade. This was assessed through previous exam results and teachers’ opinion of the students’ most likely grade, ranked in order of certainty for each subject. Scotland’s system has been criticised for downgrading many students by assessing a school’s previous results as well as the students’ attainment. This is significant in coastal towns like Canvey, where Yellow Door is situated, as it has seen a statistical decline in attainment and academic performance.
What does this mean for A-level students on the 13th and GCSE students on the 20th of August? Only time will tell. Ofqual, the overseer of qualifications, has created what they call a robust standardisation process. The media is raising awareness of the possibility of results being downgraded this year, highlighting the unfairness of a student being graded by their postcode or socio-economic status rather than their work. Fortunately, the Scottish education has now realised that they focused too much on the bigger picture rather than individual students’ needs. This brings hope to those who are waiting on results, as once again hindsight allows our government to find solutions to problems they have not experienced before.
It is common in uncertain times to worry, it is a way of making you feel in control of a situation. Nevertheless, worrying isn’t a real solution as it doesn’t change what you can’t control. Instead, focus on the here and now. One way of doing this is through grounding:
- Look for 5 things you can see
- Feel 4 things that you can touch around you
- Listen out for 3 sounds that you can hear
- Acknowledge 2 things you can smell
- Find 1 thing you can taste
For those students like me stranded in the ocean of uncertainty, all we can do is prepare for the next wave and hope for help. Remember, you have already experienced a storm of ambiguity and you have survived! What’s one little wave compared to the storm you have already fought through. And you know what, you are not alone, there is more than just one head bobbing in the water. I don’t know about you but I feel safer knowing that there are 250,000 others waiting with me. This brings a new option. Rather than treading water alone, we can band together! We are much more likely to be seen in a group!