It’s exam season for most of us and that probably means a lot of stress and sleepless nights. There is also an unnecessary pressure that many of us face while taking exams. Have any of your marks ever been compared to your siblings, cousins, family friends, or just some aunty or uncle’s child? This is something that tends to happen in a lot of families, especially when it comes to board exams. Sometimes it’s also internal. We tend to subconsciously compare our grades to others because we’ve been conditioned to believe that our grades define us. It’s this mindset that we have been brought up with. It’s this mindset that we have to break out of.

Growing up, we have always been told to study well, get into a good college and get a good job. Of course, there is nothing wrong with getting good grades, but it’s not everyone’s cup of tea and that is okay. This pressure that society, and sometimes even our own families, put on us can be very taxing and make us extremely scared to fail. It makes us feel like we’re not enough unless we are also getting those A+ grades and 90% + marks. It’s encouraging to see more and more colleges realize this as well. An increasing number of colleges have reduced the importance they give to board exam marks and instead ask for essays and conduct interviews to get to know their candidate better.

I’m not trying to discourage anyone from studying; I’m just trying to remind you that what matters is that you’re trying your best. One bad grade or exam or an academic year is not the end of the world. Studying does not come naturally to everyone and that’s okay. Something that is always important to remember is to prioritize your mental health.

Taking on too much stress for a set of exams to an extent that it affects your physical and mental health is never okay. Moreover, the stress is counterproductive as it only makes studying harder. There’s more to a person than the marks on their report cards. It’s the kind of person you are that matters. There are numerous examples of people who were extremely smart and talented but giving exams just was not one of their strengths.

Hustle culture, sleepless nights, and surviving on multiple cups of coffee are seen as ‘cool’ in today’s time but can be extremely toxic in the long run. We need to remind ourselves to take a break. Dealing with exam stress can be extremely hard for a lot of people but it has to be dealt with not only because it affects your grades but also your mental and physical health. Taking frequent breaks, using studying techniques like the Pomodoro technique, exercising and going for walks, or just stepping outside my house for a while are some things that help me study better and reduce stress. Different things work for different people. So, find your stress busters and keep reminding yourselves – your grades DO NOT define you.

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