Dealing with curveballs

The best takeaway from all the stories about A-levels this year can be applied to anyone, no matter what their situation.

A Carlisle student got a double dose of misfortune after he received the wrong results and then, when he finally discovered that his actual result was still not good enough, had missed out on all available clearing places due to the delay.

So far, so frustrating. But something caught my eye in what Mike Smith said after this unfortunate news.

Smith told Cumbria’s News & Star that he was more angry with himself, because he knew he could have put in more work to get the grades he needed in the first place.

It could have been so easy to blame the sequence of events for what took place. If the error had not occurred, a clearing place may have been possible.

photo by John-Morgan
photo by John-Morgan

Despite these issues, however, he still recognised some responsibility. Rather than wash his hands of the whole thing, he showed awareness that he could take better control of his situation and that he would do so now.

Curveballs get thrown at us as we go through life. Some big, some small. But that doesn’t take away our own strengths and responsibilities. You cannot control your life down to the last action, but you do have great tools at your disposal.

From time to time, remind yourself to use those tools and to learn how they operate best.

When you’re faced with unexpected problems, remember not to just find blame in everything else. It is rarely worth the effort. Many things do happen outside of your control. That makes it doubly important not to give up on the things you still have a handle on. Letting go of everything is destructive with no purpose.

I hope Mike Smith is able to recover from this year’s unfortunate position. I’m confident he will, so long as he continues to take responsibility for the matters he has more control over. Smith has learned something from a curveball, which isn’t an easy thing to do.

Next time you’re thrown a curveball, what will you do with it?


  1. Great Blog,

    Next time life throws me a curve ball I will make a list of things that I could have done better. My little tip is to prepare for the worst and plan for the unforeseen circumstances, but sometimes even then things happen so you just have to accept that sometimes life has different plans for you and that you need to just go with it even if it may not have been what you initially planned.

    1. I agree, Jackie. It’s useful to prepare for the worst, but not to expect it. Equally, prepare for the best, but don’t automatically expect that either.

      Since we can’t be sure what the future holds, all we can reasonably do is aim toward what looks best and do what we can to position ourselves accordingly.

      And if things don’t go as planned? Pick yourself up and dust yourself off, ready to press on again!

      1. I completely agree, as, like you said we can’t predict the future,I strongly believe in working hard at what you ‘want’ everyday as the more you put in the more you get out of it and also visualise your goals and your aims. (If you can’t imagine them, you can’t make them into a reality).

        Your second blog was very useful too, you are very insightful. It has taken me two years to find a full-time job after I graduated, and that blog went through all the emotions that I went through. Will definitely be spreading the word about it 🙂

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