Ask your counsellor..

Dear Madam

I am a 2nd PUC (commerce) student. I have hardly 20 days left for my exams.
 
Though I have completed studying the entire syllabus,solved previous year question papers and also secured 95% in my preparatory I feel that my preparations are not enough.
 
I aspire to be one among the state toppers and this feeling of fear is bringing me down. 

I want to know what I can do to overcome this fear. 

Both my parents and lecturers are expecting high results from me and I don't want to let them down.

A student

Dear Student,

By the time this gets published your exams would probably be over. However, my response would probably help you deal with your fears and anxieties in the future as well. 
 
I would like you spend a few minutes thinking about what would happen if your worst fear (of not being a state topper) came true! 

How would it feel? Would it impact the rest of your life in anyway? 

Would it even matter, and be of any significance, a year down the line? 
 
Would your parents still love you? 

Would your friends still have you as their friend? 
 
Would you still get admission into the next step of your education? 

Would your teachers still remember you as a good student? 

Once you are able to answer these, and other similar questions, honestly, you will probably conclude that the importance you are attaching to being a state topper may be disproportionate to the gain that you will get out of it. 

It is great to aspire for great heights, but the fear of those heights should not prevent you from climbing them. 

After all, nothing material will really happen if you are not able to climb that height. 

Remember, failure is always an event, never a person. 

If you don’t do as well as you would like to, it does not mean that YOU are a failure. 

All it means is that you were not able to achieve as much as you would have liked to.

As far as letting your loved ones down, you should be striving for great heights for your own satisfaction, and your own sense of accomplishment – not because you fear that your loved ones may not love you as much if you do not. 
 
You have to believe in yourself, and believe that you are worthy of being loved by your family, whether you do well in your exams or not. 

YOU are worthy, not because of your performance in your exams, but because of who you are.
Hope this bit of insight helps you in the future too. All the best.

Dear Madam

I am a 2nd PU student and I am facing a severe crisis. I am not able to concentrate on what I am studying.

I just cannot focus for long. As a result I am taking a lot of time to complete simple lessons and moreover 

I am not able to recollect or remember things properly. 

As a result I have not been able to score well. 

Moreover of late I am making a lot of silly mistakes in my examinations, contributing to my average scores. I get frustrated and disappointed by this. 

Even though I study for long, I am just not able to finish things to my satisfaction. My parents and teachers have really high hopes on me considering my previous achievements (95% in SSLC and 92% in I PU) and this is not making my situation easier. 

I love to play sports, but I am not allowed, neither in college or at home. 

Even while playing sports also during practice sessions I play quite well but during the actual match I just cannot play properly as I suddenly feel disinterested and can give only an average performance. 

I feel very bad about it especially after doing so much practice. 

Another problem is I tend to postpone things. 

Also sometimes I am able to study a lesson in an hour but when I try to revise later it takes close to 3 hours which I can't understand why. 

Also during the exam time I feel like doing everything else except studying but during my vacations I don't feel like doing anything and end up wasting my time watching TV or just doing nothing. 

Of late I can't even make simple decisions without pondering over it for a very long time. I keep forgetting things, misplacing things and also losing things though I try to be careful, everyone says that I am just lazy and careless.

Also I have a feeling that I should not think of whatever I am doing in a negative way. 

Even though I try to keep away from these negative feelings they still manage to creep in. 

I am really feeling desperate and disappointed because of my poor performance and also that I won’t be able to reach mine, as well as others expectations. 

A desperate student      

Dear student

There are several things you talked about in this letter, and it would be hard to address all of them here. 

However, there is one common theme that runs through, and I think it may help you to talk about that. 

I think you are anxious about the results of your performance, whether in your exams or in sports, which is not allowing you to perform at the level of your potential. 

Remember, your goal should be to put in your best effort because that is the only thing you can control. You cannot control the result. 

And, sometimes, anxiety about the result overwhelms us to such an extent that we are not able to focus on putting in our best effort. 

There is an article I had written in this newspaper some time back on helping students to deal with exam anxiety, and it may be helpful for you to read that at this point.

http://personalorbitchange.blogspot.in/2013/11/demystifying-exam-anxiety...

Your anxiety may not be allowing you to focus and concentrate, may be causing you to make silly mistakes, and be distracted, resulting you in getting more desperate, disappointed and frustrated (to use your own words). 

You say you worry about “what would happen if you got a sum wrong? I ask you to answer that question for yourself. What would happen? 

Please write down your worst fears and set them aside. 

Once you articulate your worst fears you may realize that nothing of significance really may happen. 

At the most you will get the sum wrong and may be lose a couple of marks. Now, if you think about that rationally, that is not the end of the world. It is something you can deal with, and live beyond. 
You also talk about not living up to others, and yours, expectations. 

You need to worry only about your expectations.

Others expectations will manage themselves. 

Your goal should not be to live up to others expectations, but to achieve your own potential, whatever that is. 

If you tell yourself that you should not think any negative thoughts, your mind will only fill up with more negative thoughts. 
 
All of us get thousands of thoughts all the time.
 
They come and go. And that is what you must allow them to do. 
 
Come and go. If you hang on to one thought and say you must not think it, you will be prone to think of it even more. 

Quite like if I tell you not to think of a pink elephant, you are bound to think of it even more. 

And sometimes it may just help to write down the thoughts and anxieties on a piece of paper and set them aside, so that they are not cluttering up your mind.

Since you have so many conflicting emotions affecting you right now I would urge you to see a counsellor who may help you make sense of them. If you are not able to access acounsellor, it may be helpful to reach out to some of the free helplines that offer assistance. 
 
Once such is the Parivarthan Counselling Helpline on which you can reach a counsellor Monday to Friday from 4 pm to 10 pm. The number is 080 65333323.

Good luck, stay focused and all the best for your exams! Remember, the exams and your performance in them do not define you. You define yourself!

Maullika Sharma is an MBA graduate with a specialistion in counselling.

She works with adolescents and parents. Send in your queries to 
Ask Your Counsellor, Education, 
Deccan Herald, 75, MG Road, Bangalore-560001 or 
email as at dheducation @deccanherald.co.in

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