As I’m writing this blog post, thousands of young people and children across the UK, are taking – or have very recently taken – their exams; whether that be SAT’s, GCSE’s, AS or A levels.
A young person I was speaking with the other day has a grand total of 28 exams to sit for his GCSE’s – in a space of just two months! That sure is a crazy amount of exams!
Exam season can be a tricky time of year for children and young people, but also for parents and carers too. They tend to feel as though they’re treading on eggshells around exam time, finding it hard to strike the balance between nagging and encouraging and generally trying to ease any stress. Because at the end of the day, they just want their young person to do their best.
But what about the young people themselves?
They’re under so much pressure to revise and achieve the grades they need, an enormously stressful and demanding task which consequently has an impact on their mental health and wellbeing. As more pressure is being put on SAT’s these days, this is no longer just an issue for teenagers but also for young children. It can be a time of worry, panic, concern and stress.
“Succeed, succeed, succeed, pass, pass, pass…” this is all our young people are hearing right now.
Do you remember taking your exams when you were young? Do you recall the stress you were under? How did you cope?
Exams are important, don’t get me wrong. But they are not the most important things in the world. They are not the be all and end all of our lives…though, it certainly feels that way at the time.
I’ve taken my fair share of exams. Some I passed and some I failed. In fact, exactly 11 years ago (that makes me feel old) I was sitting and preparing for my GCSE’s. I recall the late nights, the stress, the arguments with my parents, the fear of not feeling ready and the vast amounts of paper scribbled with revision notes and practise papers.
What I want to underline, write in bold, and exclaim is…
an exam result doesn’t define who you are!
If it goes badly, then there are always other options and life doesn’t stop; there is always hope! It’s not the end of the world if the exams don’t go as well as expected or hoped for. It’s important not to panic too much but to speak with loved ones, seek advice and support so that in time you can see the bigger picture.
As a Christian, here are two Bible verses that have helped me greatly, in times of stress, both exam related and in the everyday.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Philippians 4:6
Results day is a nervy time which can result (*pun alert) in joyful tribulation but also feelings of disappointment followed by that persistent worry of not being good enough. And there’s the inevitable comparison of your achievements or lack thereof, with fellow classmates and peers or even siblings; a dangerous trap that we can fall into.
As adults, I believe, that we too, are often guilty of comparing ourselves to others.
I have come to realise that comparing your work, your life, your car, your house or whatever else, will only serve to make you unhappy. Comparison can often breed bitterness, anger, resentment and can eat away at our happiness.
One particular quote from Theodore Roosevelt, which my wife enjoys quoting is…
“Comparison is the thief of all joy”.
Where in your life are you unhappy? Do you ever feel that you’re not good enough? Is your unhappiness perhaps due to comparing yourself to others?
If so, may you know deep down that YOU ARE GOOD ENOUGH and that there is always HOPE.
At Camberley Youth for Christ, we try to teach and encourage this among the young people we encounter, but this message really applies to all of us.
If you are robbing yourself of joy by comparing yourself to your co-worker, neighbour, best friend or whoever it may be, I pray that you would know your worth and your identity in Christ. Just as an exam result doesn’t define you, neither does the car you drive, the house you live in or the money that you earn.
Oli Deeks (Centre Director)