I mean I kind of knew that I shouldn't make too huge a deal out of it at first, but I got swept up with the rest by the pressure and stress, along with the unnecessarily high standards I ended up setting for myself. But a little change in perspective reset my focus, armed with a stronger belief than before.
First of all, I don't think any of my aspirations require straight A's. I've probably already said that I would very unlikely find myself in a situation where I'm mostly cooped up in an office, stuck with a huge workload and with little rest even on non-working days. Lawyers and doctors are out, to mention a few. Where my tendencies lie, grades may not be such a great determining factor in future paths. I can prove myself worthy and valuable through other means!
Secondly, I also realised that I may have put too much weight on the 'A' Levels as a final escape from exams and from boring lessons forever. This of course is a false notion. Not just on a technical aspect that I'd likely still have to attend university lectures and tests, but also that I can never escape from tests or lessons even after that.
What do I mean by that? Life has been, and still will be, peppered with various lessons and tests that I'll take, as I have been and as I will be later on. Don't quickly assume the darker interpretation that life will just be exams after exams and nothing else! The education system isn't that static and will inevitably change to focus more on learning rather than exam-preparing.
"Lifelong learning" is a phrase that gets tossed around a lot, although over here it's more of a call to the masses to make themselves more productive and useful to the economy. In fact lifelong learning is more than just the standard picture of older people attending classes to learn stuff. We are in fact living in one gigantic classroom, where we can learn truths or ideas that go beyond standard curricula. Just from interacting more with what's around us, we gain information about our surroundings, and occasionally about ourselves. Sometimes we may take the role of the mentor in the classroom, whether willingly or unintentionally.
Then where is the "lifelong testing"? That comes in the form of the daily challenges we face. Each obstacle, regardless of the difficulty, is a way to evaluate just how well we recall and apply the relevant information we've accumulated so far. Some events are little pop quizzes, but the occasional crises are major finals that push us closer to the limit. But from them all, we can use the opportunity to see what went wrong or right, and we learn even more. And we grow.
With this paradigm of life being an inevitable series of lessons and tests, I can regard the upcoming 'A' Levels as just one out of the numerous more to come. It's certainly not something that's easily dismissed, but it's also not THE ultimate group of tests either. Since tests are as good as a daily occurrence, I might as well just accept it and get used to their presence.
It's a simple evaluation of whether I indeed can apply what I've been taught to a sufficient extent. That's all the examiners want to gauge. I have to make it as clear as possible that I indeed know what I know and what I don't know.
Easier said than done though... but maybe not as hard as I previously imagined :P