“I’ve just finished sitting my GCSEs and was amazed at just how
much pressure I was under from several different sources.
My teachers at school went on and on about just how important these
exams were; how they would change my whole future. This was hard
for me to accept at first, but then I started thinking maybe, just
maybe, they were right. That scared the hell out of me and I went
into panic mode!
Sure enough this panic was accelerated by the responses of many of
my friends because their attitude was completely different to that
of the teachers. ‘I don’t care anyway’ and ‘they are just trying to
scare us – what do they know?’ frequently popped up in
conversations between me and my friends. So I was in the middle,
still bricking it, but not knowing whether I should really bother
On top of the sacrifice of a social life for good grades, there was
also the pressure from my parents to do as well as my sisters had –
a typical scenario for many kids my age with older siblings.
I was constantly told by my parents ‘just do your best’ – which,
roughly translated, meant ‘don’t get straight A’s like your sisters
and we’ll hold it against you forever’. I tried to prepare my
parents for the possibility of me getting bad grades by slipping in
the sly ‘don’t expect great things’ trick on short car journeys.
But this was quickly countered with the ‘we know you’re capable’
from my parents.
So I was left there, crumbling under the sheer pressure coming from
all these places and many more. I decided that I had to choose my
own path to follow and blank out what other people wanted and
expected, and just concentrate on what I wanted.
And that would be my advice to all others doing their exams: think
about what you want, not what anyone else wants!