Exam Stress

Exams are the bane of any young persons life.

The panic, the dread, the sleepless nights before hand. Whether you’re good at school or just absolutely detest it, exams were the first real moment of stress in my youthful years that I can remember.

For me there are three things in the world that will forever give me shivers when I think about them for long enough. The first being the dentist, the second now being that of paying the bills and lastly, when I think back to the horror over  worrying about my exam results as a kid. 

As I ramble on I am in no way shape or form trying to bash the school system or how important it is for our young people to stick in and work as hard as they can at school, however I’ve always felt for the kids that are maybe in the bracket of being a little short of confidence and have somewhat a little less understanding of the whole educational journey. Exam time, although some might not show it, can strike up severe pressures and anxieties. If I fail how will I make it in the world? If my best friend gets better results does this mean they will go on to become more successful than me? Will I just be left behind to work in a job I have no interest in, that pays nothing and have to accept it as this is what I’ve been told? What are my parents going to say?!

I think children can be extremely mislead and misinformed over where exactly education will take them. For a second just imagine a young lad leaving school at fifteen with zero qualifications. Never having a great thirst nor interest in what a pigeon holed education system was trying to teach him. Just the one dream. The pipe dream of becoming a professional football player with a 1 in a million chance of that actually coming to fruition. Now I imagine for any parent this would be their worst nightmare. And I put myself into the shoes of a parent for a second and completely understand the reasons why.

But for a second, what about this? Your child has a passion, a talent. A different type of drive that education doesn’t quite cater for in the High School system. A total path of the unknown and where it would take them. Something that teachers couldn’t see on a piece of paper or what an exam result would tell them. I was told something quite powerful at a very young age and it was something in which I decided to carry with me into every one of life’s more testing moments.

Life is no dress rehearsal. If you are ever going to fall short doing something in this life it is better to fall short doing the things you loved and believed in than driving down a different path and becoming lost and unfulfilled. We all come from different backgrounds, have different beliefs and can only go on our own discoveries. For me I was grateful to be allowed to fail multiple times and have the support to try again when I needed it the most. Now, you are not always going to get to exactly where you want because you love the thing you are pursuing and are extremely passionate about. Becoming a professional footballer didn’t quite work out for me but I like to think I kept my eyes open looking for that next door to open. There were naturally moments of concern about what would come next but I do believe that would have been the same case even if I had managed to slog it out in school.

I swapped the educational system for leaving my own comfort zone and immersing myself in new cultures. Developing and finding out about my own character through all those challenging situations that life throws up. These were things for me that university could never teach. Again, I’m in no way saying it’s the right way or the best way or the easiest way. I’m just saying that when life is done with me, an exam paper will never define the person I’ve become. All that worry and stress you endure, and panic because you know your intelligence doesn’t quite come across on a piece of paper.

This isn’t aimed at being a success story by any means, it’s far from it. However, life is hard enough being a kid, especially in this day and age. It’s maybe more directed at having the belief in what your child could offer and create in this world. My attendance in school wasn’t fantastic, I was under motivated and felt as though I just wasn’t that good at the subjects I was offered. I would spend my days dreaming out the window about those other things I could do. And although I was often told that it would never happen for me by adults that knew better and that I would have nothing to fall back on when I fell and missed, I was also realistic to know that if it didn’t quite work out I would have the best possible time on the journey, taking in as much as I could and learning enough from it that I would be OK. I would love to go back now and explain to a few teachers that I would never have changed my adventure because I followed my own path, a path that wasn’t already paved by society.

For the person sitting next to me at school it probably wouldn’t have been a safe or clever career choice. But to me it made all the sense I needed it to and most importantly, I believed in it! I truly believe that if you immerse yourself in the things you love and work intensely hard for what you want then something good will come of it. I know I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else in my life right now than what I am. And one things for sure, a piece of paper will never be able to predict the outcome in your life or define who or what you have at your fingertips.