"That dreaded time of the year... EXAMS"

It was 11 years ago that I graduated from high school. 11 years ago not one person thought I would ever go on to study at university; not even myself. I had only just got over the line with high school. Most of my time spent wagging or playing sport or being so anxious that I could hardly concentrate even when I wanted too. I remember the pressure put on me in year 10 (15 years old) to make these big choices about subjects which would ultimately dictate whether or not I would be able to get into a university course in 3 years time.

This type of pressure on teenagers can be debilitating. I remember sitting in my year 12 maths exam thinking I have no idea what I am even looking at. I walked out after 20 minutes. Thinking I have let my parents down and at the same time ruined my life. No other options were explained to me. I was just supposed to know what I wanted to with my life and also try to function with undiagnosed depression and anxiety. How could I explain this to my loved ones? I couldn't and I didn't. My sister was a great student and went straight onto university. In my mind I was a failure.

Fast forward 11 years and I have almost completed a double degree in psychology and counselling and with grades that I am proud of. I got accepted into university with my cert IV. The very same qualification that I was ashamed of because it wasn't a degree. I decided in my mid 20s that I knew I could do it. I wanted to prove everyone wrong. I wanted to prove to myself that I could do something if I set my mind to it. I did. Sometimes I still can't believe it.

So, as exam time is approaching for students across Australia. I will say this to you. Don't be fooled into thinking there is only one way to achieve your dreams. Grades aren't everything. I am living proof of this. If you don't know what you want to do with your life right now. That is ok. Enjoy the process. Speak to someone if you're struggling. You will do amazing things regardless if you pass or fail your exams. Most of all listen to that little voice inside your head telling you to chase your dreams and believe in yourself.

Live, breathe, embrace;

Stef

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Tenille Westerhout