The fifteen-year-old who is worried about cracking their next exam.
I want to pretend that I am your future self, writing to you, full of worldly wisdom about how to tackle the seemingly most difficult phase of your life – but since you are smart enough (and old enough) to look at me suspiciously if I do, let me just call myself a well-wisher with some handy tips and tricks that kept me going when I was in your spot, not too long ago.
When you were asked at dinner today, how your preparation is going – I know it caused a slight stir of panic at the base of your throat. ‘Oh God! Oh God!’ said your mind, while you skilfully but tactically gave out a semi-satisfactory response while also changing the subject to something that made you feel less… threatened? I know you hoped nobody noticed, but I did.
Don’t worry – I don’t plan on telling on you – it’s honestly the last thing on my agenda. If anything, from experience, I can tell you that even if not in that exact situation, opening up might be a good idea. You feel like that last score you got, was not what you deserved? Not understanding a subject, bothering you? Some topics making you feel crippled with an immense weight on your chest where you almost don’t want to study it – ever?
Believe me – I know the feeling all too well. What I also do know, is that it isn’t as scary as it seems, once you talk about it. No – not just to your friends who seem to know the world (but really? They’re just better at Google-ing things than you are). Speak to an adult you trust. You know, the one who isn’t going to make things worse when you admit to being vulnerable?
Choose who that will be and find a moment with them and let them know where you seem to need a little bit of support. I’m a 100% sure that if they can’t extend that support themselves, they’ll know exactly where to help you find a place (or person!) where you will be able to overcome these little hurdles. Then, it’s not going to seem as bad.
The other day, when you lost a perfectly good night’s worth of sleep, worrying over that grade in that subject, again – I was worried for you. While no one denies how important your education is, why would you let one tiny score among the many you get – haunt you like that. And even when it did, why would you give it enough power to steal from you, your health?
While it might not seem that way right now (or in the immediate months to come), as time goes on, you will have and be responsible, for bigger, more important things. Things that could potentially impact a lot of people in significant ways. Of course, that comes in much later, but I guarantee you – the time will come. I seriously, humbly and repeatedly urge you to leave being stressed for times like those. For everything that seems like a mountain you can’t scale today, you will have something thrice as big – and when you come to it, you’ll thank yourself (and if you’re reading this letter, me!) for not having given up at this stage.
Is it going to be scary? Maybe. Is it going to be difficult? Probably. But when you get past it, is it going to make the whole process worth it? Absolutely.
So, as you take your next exam, it’s great to have that fire burning in your belly, churning your last meal in anticipation of the paper that you’re going to attempt. But what will make it better – is if you are prepared for it as best as you can. That way, regardless of what the result says, you can rest assured that you have done the best that you possibly could.
Which is why, besides your preparation itself, I must take a minute to remind you to take care of yourself. Your meals, proper sleep and being honest in reaching out for help once in a while –are as important, as how much you apply yourself into your studies. Believe me – irrespective of what the score says at the end of the day, when you reach where I am today, you will be glad you did.
If things seem to get out of hand and if you find yourself overwhelmed – remember, everyone around you right now, love you and only want what is best for you. Even when they don’t seem to, it is just their worry for you that prevents them from owning up to it. And it is because they care for you and worry about you, that they are the ones who can help you with whatever you’re struggling with – academically or otherwise. I’m writing to tell you – let them. Believe me, they will.
As dreary as I am making this seem, I also know that you find your moments to have fun. Sure, it isn’t as often as it once used to be or as often as we would like it to be, I’d like to ask this of you today: Don’t let go of these moments. They keep you sane and trust me – they give you stories to laugh about, in the years to come.
And while everything seems to be out of your control and almost impossible to get a grip on, I know it all works out in the end and that you do, in fact, charge through whatever it is that comes your way. Oh, and don’t forget – when I say charge, I also mean the parts where you stumble a little and that’s completely okay.
How do I know? Wait and find out.
Assured that you are going to make me proud,
Your Future Self.