Studies

What’s next after Os? A letter to my 16-year-old self

Sam Ly // January 10, 2020, 12:45 pm

Letter to 16 year old self O levels

Dear Sam,

Congrats, I guess! All those months of hard work have unfortunately not given you what you wanted but hey, at least it’s time to close this chapter.

As people were cheering and comparing their result slips, you quietly slipped away to your mum waiting anxiously at the back of the hall, just happy to show her you didn’t fail A-Math (and for the first time in your life, too!). 

Upon a closer look of your O-Level result slip, your joy about not failing anything soon turned into concern, as you saw how the number of points added up towards your L1R5.

Perhaps you should have studied harder. Perhaps you shouldn’t have spent so much time on your CCAs. Perhaps you shouldn’t have given up so much time for your school prayer group and for friends who were struggling through the O-Level period. 

Then again, loving and caring for others is in your DNA. You don’t know it yet, but you’re going to put others before your studies again and again in the future. This is how God is working through you to love others.

You’d also later decide that Matthew 6:33 would be your favourite verse. Indeed, may you continue seeking first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and see how all these things would be added unto you. 

5 things to consider when you’re at the crossroads

Speaking of adding, yes, I hear you. You’re disappointed by your score. People around you are busy discussing which elite JC’s open house to visit or comparing who attained more A1s. This chatter bothers you, but deep down you know you did your best and trusted God to handle the rest.

You might not have seen the fruit of your labour from all those CCAs you did or all the people you invested time in, but trust me, you’ll see them much sooner than you think. Above all, your secondary school experience was all part of His plan to shape you to become who you are right now!

You might think that your L1R5 is going to plague you for a long time, but I promise you that it didn’t. I might as well tell you now too: You’re completely spared from math and science for the next decade. Yay!

I know you’re quite confused about what to choose for your next phase of education. Your score sits awkwardly at a point where you have the opportunity to choose either JC or poly – one of the most difficult decisions for you at this point. Then again, you know very clearly that no matter the path, you’d continue to serve the Lord because you love Him with all your heart, soul, mind and strength (Luke 10:27).

Your desire to ask the Lord and to do His will is good! But that does not mean that God will make all the big decisions in life for you.

Heads up, kiddo. God is not going to choose on your behalf. This is a decision that you’re going to make on your own, with the tables and comparison charts that you’re going to create soon.

Your desire to ask the Lord and to do His will is good! But that does not mean that God will make all the big decisions in life for you. As long as your eyes are fixed on Jesus, and your desire is to do His bidding no matter where you are, I assure you that He will use you for His glory. 

For a long time, people will not see the value of the time and effort you put into serving Him. They will laugh at your busyness and question why you don’t spend more time studying or earning actual money. Don’t get put off.

Sadly, some people will even ridicule you about your O-Level results. Let them be. Everyone has their own battles, so always give them that benefit of doubt and love them as Christ would. Keep calm and carry on!

My season of waiting changed me

Life is a journey with God, and I can assure you that He is good all the time. Through the coming years, everything will point to just one conclusion – that God is always with you and you need not be anxious. 

So, get going! You might still be disappointed and hurt, but cheer up. Study hard, love lots and serve Him zealously. 

In Christ alone,
Sam (a decade older!)


After her O-Levels, Sam interned for 3 months at a para-church organisation and later stayed on as a volunteer. She went on to pursue studies in law at a polytechnic and university, and is currently working in the legal industry. Sam has requested to use a pseudonym for confidentiality.

THINK + TALK

  1. What are your priorities in life?
  2. Do you regret any decisions you’ve made?
  3. Do you believe that God can work for your good in spite of your circumstances and choices?