Exam Results and Redefining the F Word
August 13, 2020
Unfortunately, a significant amount of young people grow up judging themselves by results and outcomes, rather than the effort they put in and the progress they’ve made along the way.
I was one of those people. My self–esteem fluctuated with the ‘success’ or ‘failure’ of the tasks I was completing. Whether it was academics, sport or other parts of school life that support ‘social status’, I would define my own self-worth by the outcome, rather than looking intrinsically at my values and how I went about getting to the result.
When it comes to exam results, this issue is more prevalent than ever. Many 16-18-year olds are being crippled by the uncertainty that results bring. It’s normal to have feelings of anxiety and to a point, a fear of failure. However, when you are completely focussed on the outcome of a situation, that fear of failure can become overwhelming and completely dictate how you live day to day. Avoiding new experiences for the fear of appearing inadequate, and missing opportunities that could teach them valuable life lessons or more importantly, be some of most enjoyable times of their life.
To me, addressing this problem begins with redefining what we interpret as failure and how we then decide to move forward. Feelings of failure tend to stem from the difference between our expectations and the outcome itself. I’m not proud to say that I was disappointed with all my results, but now looking back, I can say this was entirely unjustified. What could have resolved this?
‘SMARTER’ or more appropriate goals, a better awareness of my own strengths and weaknesses, but most importantly, not comparing myself to other people. Is this easy while you’re stood in a room full of your peers, discussing and comparing grades? Absolutely not. However, try to remind yourself that you’re on your own personal journey. Four years into life ‘post exam results’, I haven’t followed any of my best laid plans. They’ve always found a way to become unstuck, and usually this has been completely outside of my control.
Try to see failures as an opportunity for growth. Try to see rejection as ‘redirection’. It could be from sixth form, college, or university, but remember, when one door closes, you tend to focus on it. Always remember more doors than you can even comprehend are still wide open and waiting for you.