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Dear Madam,

No matter how hard I try, I always only manage to score about 60 per cent. My parents are always upset that I don’t get the best marks. They turn very angry after the results are announced. I get very depressed at such times, and it is very hard for me to forgive myself for scoring low. This happens every year. I don’t want to hurt my parents and don’t want them to be ashamed of me. But, I haven’t been able to fulfill any of their and my academic goals. I've started to lose faith in myself and I don’t think I’ll ever be able to score high marks.

I don’t have any true friends. Everyone hates me and talks things behind my back. They talk to me only when they need something. Everybody keeps avoiding me and don’t let me mingle in a group for any sort of activity. My presence has no meaning to anybody. I have tried very hard making friends but have been unsuccessful. Others seem to have a good time making fun of me. I am always alone at home during holidays/weekends. Things were not like this in school when I did not mind being lonely. But now I can’t tolerate it. I have become a common enemy. I haven’t caused any harm to anyone and I don’t know why people hate me. I feel very low and very stupid for scoring low and having no friends. Now I don’t feel anything at all and I don’t want to attend college.

All these years, I have not been able to prove myself to be more intelligent or beautiful or popular than the others. I’m afraid that in the future,  I won’t be able to make any friends or relationships and will end up a loner. I don’t think I will be able to outshine others in any activity. I’m ashamed of facing my parents. I’ve lost all interest in life. I don’t have the strength to bear all this anymore and I feel like running away. What should I do to be a normal person? Waiting to hear from you
XYZ

 
Dear Student,

Thank you for taking the time to write to me in detail about all that is troubling you. There are many feelings that I pick up from your letter and I would like to address each one of these. However, I will not be able to do too much justice to each of one them here and earnestly urge you to see a counsellor who will help you work through your feelings.
Now, coming to your feeling of despair. First, I get a sense that because you feel you are hitting a bottom right now, you are not a ‘normal’ person. Let me reassure you that your feelings are ‘normal’ and many people feel this way at various stages in their life.

Second, you feel lonely and believe that no one likes you. Everyone around you seems to hate you, in your perception. You feel left out and alone. You feel everyone takes advantage of you and then moves on. You say nobody likes you. My question to you is this — do you like yourself? If you like yourself, then it does not matter if anyone else likes you or not. By the nature of your interactions with others, they will be forced to like you. If you don’t believe in yourself, and don’t think there is anything likable about you, then you start also believing that nobody else likes you. The only thing that matters is what you think about yourself. Maybe you should start by doing an exercise for yourself where you identify and write down your strengths.

You also don’t want to hurt your parents, and you feel pressured to perform up to their expectations. You feel that unless you get the marks, you are worthless, not only to them, but also to yourself. Somehow you seem to be taking on the responsibility of your parents’ feelings. Your parents are adults and will learn to deal with their own feelings. You need to be responsible for your own feelings, and believe in yourself. Even if you don’t get the marks, it does not mean that there is nothing in you to love or be proud of. Discover your strengths and feel good about them. That will give you the confidence to face the world. If you feel that you are only worthy to your parents if you get the marks, then you need to start believing in yourself and your worth. Not everyone gets the marks. But that does not mean that those people are not worthy or capable of success. Marks only open a few doors for you. What you make of your life after that is entirely dependent on your other qualities of communication, confidence, cooperation, creativity, leadership, etc. Your marks will not hold relevance then. Remember, failure is always an event, never a person. If you fail at an exam it does not mean that you have failed as a person.

You can’t run away from life, and neither can you control what others say about you, or how they treat you. The only thing you can control is what you believe about yourself and your worth. And believe me, if you change that for the positive, a lot of the other things will fall in place.

Maullika Sharma is an MBA graduate with specialisation in student counselling. She works with adolescents and parents. Send your queries to Education, No. 75, M G Road, Bangalore-1 or e-mail it to dheducation@deccanherald.co.in

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