Last year, my final years exams were horrific. I struggled to get through them all, had huge exam panic, went to one exam having not slept in over 27 hours and genuinely believed that I would not get to experience graduation day with my best friends and that I’d finally have the confirmation to show to everyone else what I believed I had known all along – that I was a failure. So, as many of my friends are about to go through the same hell hole that is finals (or indeed anybody who has exams looming and is feeling a tad stressed, to put it mildly), I wrote a little pep-talk, just in case.
Hey there you!
It’s that time of year again. The time where exams are looming, final deadlines are coming up far, FAR too quickly and stress levels are reaching their peak.
There will be points where it seems impossible, like you might not be able to get through it without bursting into tears, where you might feel like an idiot because none of the notes that you keep reading and re-reading are staying in your head. Generally, there will probably be times when you feel like you’re a bit useless (you’re not, by the way).
But it’s going to be okay. It really, really is.
You just need to keep going.
It will be tough, there’s no doubting that. The stress that departments like to put on us, the pressure we put on ourselves to get that coveted 2:1 we’ve all been brainwashed into thinking is the be-all and end-all of our entire university experience will mean there will most likely be points when you just want to bang your head on the table or scream into a pillow.
But, at the end of the day, there’s one thing you need to try to remember, even when it gets really tough.
You’re flipping awesome!!!!!
Little ol’ you who just wants to do well!
You are an amazing, wonderful person who is far more than what one lecturer decides the work you’ve just done under a huge amount of pressure, in just a few hours, on just one day out of 366 (#leapyear) is worth.
We live in this world where we keep being told that if we don’t do well in our GCSEs, our A-Levels, our first years exams (that ‘you should still do well in even if they don’t count’), our second year exams (which sadly do count) and our final exams (which feel like they count for everything and that the entirety of your life seems to have been building up to), then our whole life will be over and we’ll have disappointed everyone.
I’ll let you in on a little secret about my final exams: they went terribly! That’s not me exaggerating, they were appalling. If it weren’t for S.A.C. forms, and if it weren’t for my dissertation (which again, I thought had gone terribly), I wouldn’t have gained a 2:1. It was one hell of an exam week, but once it’s was over, it’s was so worth it.
Everyone has off days, weeks, months, years even. But you’re more than an exam, a grade, a number. There was something said during my undergraduate matriculation (I wish I could actually remember it being said but we were all pretty exhausted after the lovely morning run all Johnians will know all about) that seems quite relevant now: Don’t let your degree get in the way of your education.
The last three or four years, those hours spent in lectures, writing essays, struggling to stay awake in that really dull seminar, they’re only a small part of what you’ve learnt. The things which I’m proud of, the things which make you you, are the things you’ve gone off and done outside of your degree. Sports? Societies? (JCR-iness, if you’re Durham inclined)? Everyone has that little something they’ve done that nobody else has, and it doesn’t matter how big or small it is, you did that. You! If you helped someone when you didn’t need to, organised something, wrote something, you’re the one that did that. Be proud. Hold your head high. Because it’s that which sets you apart from everyone else, not how well you do in an exam.
Please don’t put yourself down. Please don’t think that because you haven’t managed to consume as many facts and figures as the person who gets on everyone’s nerves for knowing all the answers (and yet never turns up to lectures) that it makes you any less intelligent as the next person. Those little things that only you’ve done, that make you the truly unique person you are, those skillzzz (sorry, I just had to) you’ve gained, they’re what make you this really awesome human being that is completely irreplaceable.
What I know you’re going to achieve next, what I know you’re capable of and which you can get though even when the going gets really tough, is only the tip of the iceberg. You’re so much more than a dissertation or a final set of exams.
You’ve achieved so much, and you’ll never be a disappointment, especially to me.
You’re going to be okay, and never forget how great you are.
So look after yourself. Don’t work for hours and hours on end without breaks – breaks are important! Have time to do something you enjoy rather than revising – it’s difficult, because it can feel like ‘I have so much to learn and yet I’m not revising 24/7’, but you need to do something to have a break to help get through the dullness of revision. As Tom from Parks & Rec would say, “Treat ‘yo self”.
It’ll be over before you know it.
You got this [insert the blowing-a-kiss emoji].