Young people are under far more pressure than generations before them. The world is becoming ever more complex and demands and expectations on adolescents are higher than ever. Exam stress dominates the lives of far too many young people.
If you are struggling with the pressure that you, your parents, or your teachers are putting you under, I’m not surprised.
Rather than tell you how to manage your stress better, I want to offer this thought: School exams and grades are only a small part of your life.
Right now they may feel like the only thing. I don’t want you to think that I don’t realize the importance of exams. Good grades open doors. However, I believe exams are highly overvalued.
You are not a failure
Your worth or success in life doesn’t depend on exams.
Failing an exam or not doing as well as your parents or teachers expected, doesn’t make you a failure.
You are much more than your grades.
As a human being, you are enough just as you are, regardless of whether you do well in your exams, pass them ok, do badly, fail or don’t take them at all.
Failure is a part of life
Exam stress stems from the belief that they are everything, that your life depends on your grades.
Everyone has failed in some way in their lives. Successful people have failed. The people around you, have failed in some way or another in their lives.
Some have failed an exam, others a driving test, others at a job, a business, or a relationship. All of us have failed our loved ones and ourselves at times.
Failure is not dangerous. It is part of life.
Exams are just exams
Sadly, in our modern world, we can’t completely avoid exams and tests. However, you don’t have to see them as more than they are.
An exam is an opportunity for you to show how much you have learned. It is an opportunity for you to challenge yourself and show what you master and what you still need to work on.
Don’t give it more power than that.
If your grades are not high, your life will not be ruined. You will find a way to achieve what is important in life: good relationships with family and friends, inner peace, time for what is important, looking after your health, good sleep, self-love, gratitude, challenges that inspire and drive you, and meaning in life.
The secret of stress
If you can’t shake off exam stress, here’s a secret that may help. We think that stress is bad for us but, actually, stress is only bad for us if we think that it is bad for us. When you feel under pressure, can you use that energy in your body and use it for something that will benefit you?
Matleena Vanhanen is a licensed Counselling Psychologist with over 20 years of experience working in Europe and the Middle East. She has a practice of couples and individual therapy at the MapleTree Center in Dubai.