Exam results day transports us all straight back to that moment where we picked up our own results.
It’s a strange day, one full of different emotions – mostly anxiety and worry.
Which reminded me of this wise list of things to worry, not worry, and think about.
In 1933 F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote this letter to his 11 year old daughter who was away at camp. I think that it really puts things in perspective, no matter what your age or your current worries.
La Paix, Rodgers’ Forge
August 8, 1933
I feel very strongly about you doing duty. Would you give me a little more documentation about your reading in French? I am glad you are happy — but I never believe much in happiness. I never believe in misery either. Those are things you see on the stage or the screen or the printed pages, they never really happen to you in life.
All I believe in in life is the rewards for virtue (according to your talents) and the punishments for not fulfilling your duties, which are doubly costly.
Things to worry about:
Worry about courage
Worry about Cleanliness
Worry about efficiency
Worry about horsemanship
Things not to worry about:
Don’t worry about popular opinion
Don’t worry about dolls
Don’t worry about the past
Don’t worry about the future
Don’t worry about growing up
Don’t worry about anybody getting ahead of you
Don’t worry about triumph
Don’t worry about failure unless it comes through your own fault
Don’t worry about mosquitoes
Don’t worry about flies
Don’t worry about insects in general
Don’t worry about parents
Don’t worry about boys
Don’t worry about disappointments
Don’t worry about pleasures
Don’t worry about satisfactions
Things to think about:
What am I really aiming at?
How good am I really in comparison to my contemporaries in regard to:
(b) Do I really understand about people and am I able to get along with them?
(c) Am I trying to make my body a useful instrument or am I neglecting it?
With dearest love,
So here’s my message to all you 18 year old’s on the start of your journey in life…
So you didn’t get the exam results you wanted? Don’t worry, re-sit or get a job, re-sit and go to uni in a few years when you have a better idea of what you what. It’s not the end of the world – in fact, it’s just the beginning.
You can read the full letter on F. Scott Fitzgerald: A Life in Letters.