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Topic: HSC exam stress as a high achiever

2 posts, 0 answered
  1. BlueBunBun
    BlueBunBun avatar
    1 posts
    6 November 2019

    Hey all. This post might be a little messy as I'm currently very stressed and had my second mental breakdown today.

    I'm considered to be one of the top students in my Year 12 cohort by both my peers and teachers; not the dux, but certainly up there. However, my school isn't exactly a smart school so in comparison to the whole NSW, I'm probably not up there. Regardless, the expectations to achieve amazing HSC results from all classmates, teachers and parents are instilled into me. Because if you're near the top, it makes sense to achieve a good ATAR right?

    Well, that's not happening to me at all. Since the HSC exams started, I had failed to perform my best during the external exams (with the exception of two subjects). I nearly vomited before one of them, affecting my ability to think properly in the first half (however I cooled down afterwards, so I had no reason to apply for illness form). Furthermore I've experienced sleeping problems, from not falling asleep straight away to waking up near 4am after nightmares of the HSC (happened last night as well). Not only did I fail to perform my best, I had let down my entire cohort too due to your overall cohort performance in external exams influencing everyone's HSC marks... I feel horrible knowing that I will be reason why my peers will fall short of their ATAR goals because silly me did terrible! So I have not only let myself down, but my classmates too.

    In the past, I have attempted to open up about my HSC exam stress to others but again, I'm considered to be among the top. Thus, I usually receive responses along the lines of "You're doing well anyway!" or "People have it worse than you, some are actually failing their subjects!". Which is true, I know this. I know that many are struggling to pass their subjects, some have strict parents while others are going through tough times, like severe family issues. And I have tried to comfort myself with this, but didn't work. No matter what, I still feel stressed knowing that everyone is expecting me to do well.

    It makes me feel like I'm an ungrateful kid complaining about first world problems, and that I have zero right to complain about the pressures of the HSC. As a result, I've repressed these emotions for the entirety of the HSC exam period and it's taken a toll on my mental health. Had few breakdowns, cried myself to sleep and I feel very alone in my stress with no one to talk to. Everyone I know has it worse.

    Thank you for taking the time to read this.

  2. autumntrees
    autumntrees avatar
    1 posts
    6 November 2019 in reply to BlueBunBun

    Hey BlueBunBun,

    I completed my VCE (HSC) last year and completely understand the stress you are under right now! I guess I was considered a good prospect by my teachers and peers too, and am not unfamiliar to ppl assuming that "you’re probably doing way better than me," or "some ppl are doing a lot worse than you!’ But I understand that feeling of needing to meet that personal standard that only I set for myself. I too thought I bombed some of my exams because of the anxiety I experienced during them. I remember walking out to the bathrooms during my English exam in tears, and in plenty of my others, the stress definitely impeded my ability to focus.

    If you took Psychology, you’d probably know a prolonged period of stress causes the depletion of your immune system which is why you experience physical symptoms like feeling unwell and sleeping problems - this is also linked to ‘burn-out’. Remember that there are so many others going through the same thing I remember this time last year literally crying in bed every single night.

    I didn’t necessarily have much pressure from those around me but I definitely placed A LOT of pressure on myself to perform well. Because 13 years of schooling has to amount to something right?

    I can tell you now, one year on, that your study scores and ATAR do not matter at all. A friend in Year 12 at the moment asked me what I got the other day and I honestly couldn’t even remember the grades and numbers off the top of my head. And that was the first time outside of my family someone had even asked! Don’t think that the day you get it, that everyone will be sharing around their scores because they really won’t.

    And don’t feel like the exams are the ‘be all and end all’, if you think you have done well during the year then you will have an advantage over others going into the exams and you won’t bring others down. Worry about yourself, people often describe VCE/HSC as a game or a competition but I think if you look after yourself (even after your exams) then you will always be the one on top!

    I'm sorry if isn’t very helpful, it’s so superficial to say ‘don’t worry!’ - I hated people saying that to me last year so to I’ll say, look after yourself! Take every day as it comes, and it’s not long now until you get to that day with nothing (school related) scheduled in it and you can enjoy your well deserved summer break :)

    1 person found this helpful