Putting results in perspective

Putting results in perspective

As you turn in the answer sheets of your last exam, students, are, foremost, overcome with a sense of relief. Like a huge weight has been finally lifted off your heads. At last, you can sleep in. Chat endlessly on the phone. Binge-watch TV. Hang out with friends without feeling guilty. If you are in your final year, either in school or college, you may even decide that you will not have anything more to do with a subject that you dreaded most.

When the summer vacation starts, you can feel the tension in your body wind down. Some students opt to do internships, travel or pursue a hobby. As you have been so preoccupied with your exams for the last few weeks, you may finally get the time to actually mull over your future plans. But as the summer goes by, an uneasy feeling again starts creeping into you.

Look beyond the numbers

Similar to exam month, you may find that your palms are clammy and your stomach churning with butterflies. Yes, writing exams is a burden but another one awaits you just a few weeks after. The results! Students may have different concerns but they all revolve around marks. Will I score enough to get a seat in a medical college? Will I pass in Statistics? Will my marks be impressive enough to get admission for higher studies? Will I be able to opt for Commerce next year?

A lot seems to depend on your marks. The possibility of further studies, the type of institution you join, your career path. In fact, at this point, your whole future seems to depend on your marks or rank in an examination. That's all very well if things turn out favourably for you. But what if things go awry? What if your marks fall way below your expectations? What if you messed up on an exam? What if you don't make the cut-off for admission into a course you coveted? What if you are the only one in the family not to get into a prestigious college? What if all your friends are celebrating while you hide in your room lamenting your fate?

Well, the short answer is, all is not lost. Even though it's hard to believe at this point, your entire future is not tied to your marks. Sure, you may not get into the best college or the course you really craved for. But that does not in any way mean that your entire life is in jeopardy. In fact, if you deal with your current setback in a positive and balanced way, you are probably learning an invaluable life skill that everybody, including toppers in exams, needs at some point or the other.

Everyone is likely to experience deep disappointment or failure in life. For some, it might mean lacklustre performance in academics, for others, failing to forge a successful career path. For some, curveballs will hit on the personal side, while others may receive blows on the multiple fronts.

Don't get me wrong. I am not trying to paint a bleak picture of the future for you. Of course, umpteen successes and joys will await you, both personal and professional. But riding highs also entails dealing with lows. If you learn to tide through the troughs of life, you will emerge more resilient and will be able to sail through its crests as well.

Don't wallow in gloom

The first thing to remember about marks is that they indicate how you performed on a particular exam. They do not, by any means, represent who you are as a person. You are a thinking, breathing, living human being with passions, interests, likes, dislikes, and talents. A number, be it a rank or a mark, cannot in anyway capture you or your personality in its entirety.

While it is natural to feel disheartened if your marks are low, do not immediately jump to the conclusion that you are less intelligent or less worthy than someone who scored well. There are myriad factors that determine how you do well on a set of exams. These range from an aptitude for a particular subject to how much effort you put in, the quality of teachers, your emotional state right before and during the exam, and plain old luck. Even though some of these factors are in your control, a large number of them are not.

So, instead of wallowing in gloom and doom, try to first lift your spirits by spending time with people who can cheer you up. When you are calm and composed, you may analyse why you think you did poorly. Did you put in the adequate effort? Do you need to change your study habits? Do you think you are not suited to a particular course? Did you fail to perform optimally because you were overly anxious? Discussing these options with others will help you figure out your next course of action.

On the other hand, if you are overwhelmed by negativity, don't hesitate to approach a counsellor. If you feel your parents are upset with you, seek help from a friend or a relative, so that your parents can be counselled as well. In order to view your exam results from a broader framework, you may mull over the words of famed philosopher and educationist,
J Krishnamurti, "There is no end to education. It is not that you read a book, pass an examination, and finish with education. The whole of life, from the moment you are born to the moment you die, is a process of learning."

(The author is director, PRAYATNA)

 

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