Overcoming Nervousness About Final Exams at College
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During my final year of college I was reflecting upon my general admissions process and how challenging it was for me to complete my original college application and admissions process – It was much harder back in those days. I remember that I needed to work very hard in high school and enroll in advanced coursework in order to progress into a college, because they were not as abundant as they are today. My senior year was upon me, and I was grateful to have made it as far as I did, but the work-load was high, and I was preparing for my capstone project and final exams.
The final exam period was one of the most stressful experiences of my life, and I felt a great deal of fear and anxiety during the preparation, examination, and especially the post-exam waiting period, where we did not yet know how we had performed.
During this period where I was experiencing the overwhelm of a situational anxiety problem, I recognized that the best way for me to overcome my sense of fear about the future was to help others overcome theirs as well. We all waited for the results of our exams together, and I wanted to be courageous by asking my friends for their examination index numbers in order to check their results and return with the information in held with compassion and optimism. As I climbed the stairs to the fifth floor of our department, I experienced rising anxiety with each footstep and, I decided that I would not check my own results until everyone else was gone. Students had mixed reactions to their grades, where some were smiling and hugging each-other, and others were sad and withdrawn. During those days passing resulted in a bright future and a decent job for students, and failure meant that we would return home with nothing to show for our hard work.
Once I saw their results, I returned to share the news, and they all returned home with smiles on their faces, but I told them that I wanted to be left behind. Without knowing the results of my test score I sat outside of our department deep in thought - University life had been a lot of fun. This was where I met my closest friends who had helped me to overcome the loneliness that I experienced as a result of being raised as an only child, and I wanted to hang on to these relationships. These thoughts brought me back to the fact that I had not yet seen my test results, so my future was uncertain. What would I tell my parents if I failed my exams? Would I lose my friends? Would my future be abysmal? The date for our graduation ceremony was drawing near for those who had achieved passing grades, and everybody else knew what was next for them, but I continued sitting outside of our department in order to think about what the exam results would mean for me. I had butterflies in my stomach.
Regardless of the results, I was worried about the future and what it had in store for me. However, I decided that my feelings about an examination would not imprison me - What I needed was to face the situation in a state of courage and strength. I focused on what I would do if I failed, and I set out clear goals in my mind there and then. I decided that I would take whatever came my way with confidence and grace and that feelings of self-pity and feeling hopelessness would not solve any of my problems. At the very least I knew that I had worked diligently throughout college and I would openly accept the exam results as they were. I would overcome any challenges that I could experience along the way, and I would not allow anything to prevent me from achieving my goals in life. Not even a failing grade. Thereafter, I climbed the stairs with determination and excitement - I felt a surge of energy and decided to face the situation whether it was a positive or negative result. Given all of this thinking and preparation, I was overwhelmed with a feeling of strength and confidence when I saw the results. I had passed my final year university exams.
I wanted to run to my friends and express my happiness to them, but my legs were trembling with such excitement that I could barely move. The weekend that followed was the happiest period of my university life, and we all gathered together for a farewell party at a nearby church hall. We sang our final hyms and each stepped forward to make a public statement to our community. Everybody loved our personal speeches, and they affirmed us with a round of applause.
You can imagine what it was like going home and telling my parents, relatives and neighbors that I had successfully achieved a full university education, which at the time guaranteed a good job with an attractive salary. It was a wonderful cause for excitement and celebration, and we had a neighborhood celebration to welcome me into the next stage in my life. So, the anxiety and depression was temporary and based upon my fear-based thoughts about the future, but the actual risk was non-existent . . . An interesting lesson for the difference between what we generate in our minds vs. what is actually present in the world. A shift in attitude can change everything.
- Anonymous Contributor
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