In the UK, GCSEs and A level exams have been cancelled as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Several other countries have also cancelled their exams for the same reason.
Many of us didn't expect to be upset over the cancellation of exams; there was a time when that would have been every student’s dream. However at this moment in time, many young people including me, are left uncertain about our next steps which may be connected to our academic achievements. A lot of us have been feeling like we are no longer in control of our future, which can understandably make us anxious.
For the most part, the last few years have had a clear layout. We knew which subjects we would have to take, what exams we would have to do, and had some semblance of what we expected the next chapter of our lives to look like. Now that the layout has been disrupted, we fear how this will affect where we choose to go next, such as into higher learning, or starting work.
Others might not feel the same anxiety as you, especially if they are not in the same situation, but your feelings are your own and they are still legitimate - there is no ‘correct’ way to feel about a situation.
With this extra time, our minds are more likely to wander into dark places, picturing the worst possible outcomes and slowly you might start to believe that that is where your future lies. Sometimes it’s easy to get wrapped up in academics to the point you subconsciously believe that you’re worth no more than the letters or numbers on a document.
Unfortunately, too many of us feel like the chance to 'prove our worth' has been taken from us. In times like these, it’s important to remember that no matter what happens, your journey does not end on results day, and that you are not defined by your academic achievements.
But rather, you are defined by your personality, your actions, your hard work, and the dedication that you put into achieving your goals. This applies at all times in life, but it’s especially relevant now. All of the adversities that you may be facing right now will come to an end, and you will emerge as a stronger person.
That being said, it is always okay to seek help and support if you ever feel overwhelmed. Remember that you can always reach out friends and family, who may be in a similar situation and be able to discuss your feeling with you. Also, you may want to talk to your teachers or pastoral staff at school as they may be able to listen to your concerns and guide you further.
There are also a lot of online resources that have been compiled by various organisations. For example, Unicef has made a webpage detailing 6 strategies for teens to help protect their mental health during coronavirus
Unicef UK has also made a webpage, which includes the downloadable Coronavirus Toolkit and a link to the #CopingWithCOVID webinar series being hosted by the Secretary-General’s Youth Envoy in partnership with WHO and Unicef on young people and mental health during the pandemic.
I hope that we can all navigate our way through the pandemic without our lives being too negatively impacted. We always have to remember that even the darkest times in our lives will come to pass, and I hope that we will see a brighter world on the other side.
- Dr Robert Schuller