Grade 8 - Or Grade B: Viv's Got This

'Although thinking and planning for the future is important, sometimes you’ve just got to do things because you enjoy them, not because it will stand out on a piece of paper.'
Vivienne Hall
March 23, 2024

My Bridgewater solo went well! I am so relieved!

The feeling is made even better because throughout my time practicing for it, there was always one note in the song that I was really not confident about. It was a relatively high note, but not even the highest in the song, but for some reason, it caught me out every time. No matter how much I rehearsed it, whenever I knew that it was coming up in the song I’d always panic and bottle it, which I felt embarrassed enough about when I was singing alone, so you can probably imagine my worries about stepping out onto the stage to sing it for over a thousand people. But amazingly, luck was on my side, and I managed to nail the note!

Vivienne Hall in the Gree Room at Manchester's Brdgewater Hall
Bridgewater Hall Green Room Imposter Syndrome

So, with Bridgewater done and dusted, I’m now beginning to prepare for my grade 8. Scary. I was originally going to complete my grade 7 first and then move onto the 8, because I was under the impression that the UCAS points that you receive from each grade can help you with university applications. But apparently this isn’t true, and that universities don’t care about the UCAS points I receive from my singing exams, which would have been nice to know about eight months ago, when I started rehearsing for my grade 7! Honestly, this whole university and personal statement business feels impossible, especially because I feel like I am being given conflicting advice all the time. I mean, the amount of stress our school puts on Duke of Edinburgh and the importance of extracurriculars was massive before 6th form, and even at the beginning of year 12. Now, I’m being told that extracurriculars make up around 20% of your personal statement.

Oh, and that accountancy work experience I organised for this summer because of ‘how much universities value work experience’, it now appears that I shouldn’t even bother to mention it in my personal statement, as it doesn’t directly relate to the course I want to study (PPE). I’m not being funny, but it would have been nice to know all of this beforehand!

Everything now feels like it is about university, no matter what I do. Whenever I consider trying my hand at a new hobby, or reading about something that interests me, my immediate thought is how it would read on my personal statement, or whether potential jobs would value it. I feel like it’s been programmed into my mind to relate everything I do, to how it will look to someone else. Someone I don’t even know. It’s so frustrating, especially because the only real insight I’ve got on the university experience comes from my parents. They both loved university, but part of me worries that I won’t, and that I will have put all this time and energy into something that I don’t even know if I’ll like. I have started to realise that although thinking and planning for the future is important, that sometimes you’ve just got to do things because you enjoy them, not because it will stand out on a piece of paper.

Something else I have never heard talked about much, but I think I relate to a lot at times, is feeling like an imposter. I have always had quite high self esteem, give or take a few insecurities that come along with the teenage experience, but in general, I’m quite confident in myself and my abilities. But recently, when I’ve been awarded with high marks in my subjects, or when receiving compliments from friends or even strangers, I’ve really started to doubt them, and I can’t put my finger on why. I think when you’ve always held yourself to a high standard, no matter what it regards, it doesn’t matter what other people tell you, or whether they think you’ve done well, if you don’t feel like you have performed as well as you could have done (for me personally whether that be in exams or with my singing), you just don’t believe them. It’s perfectionism, and it can be exhausting. And it can be hard to talk to people about, because they see you and your achievements from a different perspective, an outsider'ss perspective, with no expectations or pressures that come along with them.

Left At The Lights For A Bright Future (x5)

Therefore, when you then begin to complain or beat yourself up about, let’s say getting B in school, they might not particularly empathise because they see that grade objectively, that a B is a good grade and therefore you should be happy with it, but in your head all you feel is that you could have done better, could have come up with a better argument for an essay or answered the question in a more eloquent way.

It’s a hard mindset to shake, but I think sometimes it’s so important to look at things from an outside perspective, and just give yourself a break!