It is that time of the year again, when India, along with a heat wave, experiences a burning exam wave. Around this time, you will see students in their unnatural habitat—behind books—scrambling to attain the knowledge that takes an entire year to gain, within a few weeks.
Armed with pens, sample question papers and a lot of expectations from the who’s who, these kids are set to achieve the impossible—perfect scores in all exams.
In my school, around 15 days before exams started, the “scholars” enjoyed their time in the spotlight. All the “failures” and “average” students gathered around these scholars to clarify their doubts, ask questions and what is the best way to study.
I admit I was one of these “scholars,” and hence this letter is to all the students who are stressing over how much they still have to study before the dreaded exams.
I am writing this because your life, and your own entire perspective towards it, is soon going to change. So don’t let school definitions define you unless you genuinely want to.
In my class of 25-odd students, we were categorised according to our exam scores. There were the “scholars” who always scored above 85% and then there were the failures. Several times our teachers actually referred to them as “failures,” instead of taking individual names—to call for extra classes.
The scholars could get away with mischief and never forgot to get their diaries signed or come to school in their perfectly-ironed uniforms. Even if they did, all was forgiven, because after all, this was one small error, and they were the benchmarks of perfection, the ideal students.
However, all these classifications will last only till you hang your uniforms for good and pick up your college bags, your first step into a bigger world.
The children considered to be “failures” in my school have gone out to become extraordinarily adventurous and creative adults. Although they did poorly in their exams, they are doing wonders in their lives.
I am not implying that your exams are utterly useless and that you should give away your books right now. Realistically speaking, school exams hold an important part in our system, and if you are looking forward to joining any field that requires even a basic formal education, giving it up altogether wouldn’t really make sense.
But, don’t stress out.
There’s more to life than the numbers written in red pens, and you’ll soon see that.
Once you reach college, your desires will change from having the best mark sheets to the best you are making of life. Invest your time in hunting for internship opportunities in fields that interest you.
Even if you don’t like those job profiles, you’d know you have tried your hand and something, but it just isn’t your cup of tea.
Travel, as much as you can and with as little as you can. Today, you are primarily dependent on your parents for finances, so a lavish vacation seems just a matter of permission. However, inexpensive backpacking will be a wise teacher. If nothing else, it will teach you the essential art of jugaad—which will take you through the real world.
Make friends with people from different cultural backgrounds. It might seem like I am deviating from the point of studies, but small, seemingly irrelevant things like these have a significant influence on your education and career.
Making friends belonging to diverse backgrounds, and even more importantly, points of view about life will help you understand the world better. It will have a holistic effect on what you choose to do in life.
Research on people who have done exceptionally in the field that interests you.