Life changes a lot. I know everyone has heard it all the time – embrace change, be prepared for ups and downs. But as exam results start coming out, I’ve been thinking about how much weight people put on their final grades (understandably) and think about the year overall. We tend to compare ourselves to others or where we think we should be, and often feel unsatisfied or that we didn’t do enough. Fears about the future can creep in and make you doubt yourself even more or feel guilty about not doing enough. It’s easy to feel what we’re doing isn’t enough, no matter what we do. I think a large part of this is because of the expectation society puts on university. Our economic security depends on our job, and we want to get jobs doing things we enjoy. This puts a lot of stress on good performance and competing with others.
It’s perfectly normal to feel we need to do as well as possible, and easy to feel a variety of things when we’re not in control. What’s important, though, is recognizing that these are all feelings, and feelings pass.
This doesn’t just apply to exams. For instance, starting uni, taking a new course, participating in class or in tutorials, writing an assignment, planning and making commitments are all situations we can expect will put us through many different emotions. Life is all about being put in new situations that test us and put us out of our comfort zones. Of course it will be uncomfortable at times! It’s all part of learning. It’s the big picture that matters, not every single individual act or event that might be causing you a lot of disproportionate stress.
I’ve found it so helpful to recognize how wide the range of human emotions is and that it’s normal to feel them all. It’s normal to feel overwhelmed at some point, but that means I can also expect to feel proud of myself at another stage, too. Feelings change in degree, they fluctuate – they don’t define the situation and they don’t define your future capacity. Going through the whole spectrum of emotions during uni, and during life, is completely natural. It would be unnatural to feel satisfied all the time. Just as one emotion can exist, it also has a parallel, or different emotions can overlap.
Here are a few I found pretty relevant to expect during these years:
At the end of the day, just ask yourself if you gave it your best shot under the circumstances, and what you learned for next time. Ultimately, recognize that what you’re feeling will pass. Try not to stress – all your work adds up in the end.