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Laura Brennen

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Are Exams Ruining My Life?

Posted: 02/18/2013 12:30 pm

I'm stuck in a rut. At 16, halfway through the biggest academic year of my life so far, I have no motivation. After having a very academically successful year last year and working hard, I am struggling to get back the work ethic that I had. The only question I can ask myself is, "Why?"

I seem to be doing everything possible to avoid studying. I'm even doing mundane household chores without being asked! (Something must really be wrong.) My brain seems to be willing to do anything but work. I am not in a different position than I was last year and there have been no catastrophic events in my life. Everything is the same. Sometimes I wonder if that is part of the problem.

This year means everything in terms of my future. In May, I will sit my Highers that are essentially the key grades that I need to get into university. This is the big one... or so everyone says. Personally, I am finding it difficult to believe that I am actually here and the exams are only three months away. Part of me wonders if this is my brain trying to tell me that I do not want to grow up and start making scary "adult" decisions. I have no clue what I want to study at University, much less what job I want to do. My peers have aspirations like becoming doctors, lawyers and accountants. They all have one goal in mind and they are going to get there. I wish I could include myself in their group but I really can't -- for now at least.

At 16, I don't want to make these decisions. I want to do something for the rest of my life that I will really love and I haven't found that yet. Society wants to know, though, and wants to know now. The first question that anyone I haven't met before or seen for a while asks me is: "Do you know what you want to do at University/career-wise?"

When I say that I'm not sure I am given the "look." It's a look that gives off various vibes, sympathy being the biggest. They all think that I should really make a decision. The big, bad world is waiting and seemingly becoming bigger and worse as time goes on. Yes, I am not stupid and yes, I am aware there are not a lot of jobs and the world is becoming extremely competitive. But does that mean I cannot enjoy the last couple of years of no big responsibilities? Does that mean if I flunk my exams in May, my world will crash down around me and I will never make anything of myself?

As a society we are so fixated on these results. The logic is that good schools lead to good exam results, good exam results lead to good universities, good universities lead to a good job and a good job equals a happy life. Yes, there is no denying there is some truth to this, but it seems all so robotic. Along the way it seems that the "living" part of growing up has been lost. I know at least one of the things I aspire to be is a person who others want to be around. I want them to keep me in their company because of who I am, and my experiences and stories that come with it. Processing teens through this conveyor belt of learning and growing up is actually restricting the ability to experience things and make mistakes. This will lead to a boring, robotic workforce that are all so fixated on that next promotion.

I am a firm believer in "experience everything, forget nothing." This means that we should experience all the wonderful and not so wonderful things that are offered to us. By never forgetting all these experiences -- whether they are good or bad -- we will learn something and become better people. So, in my eyes, exam results and university are simply things that add to the overall "living" of a person. They do not define you. While they may be more significant experiences than, say, trying a new food, we should never undermine the small things because they help mold and shape a person in the same way.

Going back to being stuck in a metaphorical rut, I yearn for some new experiences. I don't want to study all the time. The work still has to be done, though. A wise teacher once told me "the only place reward comes before work is in the dictionary." This made me realize that I do need to work hard between now May, because after May and my exams, I have all the time that Summer affords to experience new and exciting things.

For now, though, I need to put my head down and work hard because while I may not fully endorse the "good at everything = happy life" equation, there is no denying that by working hard and gaining good results, it will enable me to walk an exciting path. No matter what that path is, it will afford me to actually live and embrace all the beauty that life will offer me.

 
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