Counsellor Sarah Barr shares advice for young people on how to deal with disappointing exam results.

If you received your Leaving Cert results today, please do not let them dictate your future and the person who you are.

I cried when I received mine, and not tears of joy.
We are led to believe that the results we receive in our Leaving Certificate dictates the course of our life.

It doesn’t.

One minute you are raising your hand asking for permission to go to the toilet, the next you are deciding what to do for the rest of your life.

I went to a local college and two years later I moved to Liverpool and I studied Sociology and Social Policy.

But it wasn’t until I was 28 that I returned to college, studied counselling, and built my business.
I think I got a low ‘C’ in ordinary business studies…in my junior cert. I dropped it for my Leaving Cert.

On paper I technically shouldn’t be self-employed and running my own business.

But luckily my capability and worth is not defined by a result on a piece of paper, and neither is yours.

Numbers on a piece of paper will not stop you from achieving your goals in life.

Only you will stop yourself. Your mindset, your limiting beliefs and your fears.

Yes it may be tough and it may take longer than you hoped, but it’s not impossible.

Even if your results may not be what you were expecting or hoping for, it does not mean that your future isn’t still really bright or you won’t be able to achieve great things.

If today didn’t go well here are a few tips that may help:

1. Talk to someone.

Talk to a friend, teacher or a counsellor, this can help you express your feelings and explore other options.

2. Challenge and change your expectations.

Sometimes it can be helpful to re-think your own expectations. This may help you decide if they are achievable for you. Ask yourself “What would I suggest to a friend in this situation?”

Think outside the box and explore other options for your future.
Sometimes expectations are only focused on one outcome and if you don’t meet them you might feel disappointed or that you have failed.
Remember there are a number of ways to achieve a goal.

3. Express your feelings.

Writing down your feelings or keeping a journal, can help to think clearly and explore other possibilities.

4. Look after yourself.

Expectations can lead to a lot of stress. It is so important to take time out by doing something that you usually enjoy.

So if like me, you are not ecstatic with your results today. Please, please don’t lose hope. There are always options.

Speak to your guidance counsellor or a teacher, decide your next path. And most of all believe in yourself.

Take care ~ Sarah.