The Need to Succeed
By Lauren, age 16, California
Sweet Designs Featured Writer
So what's the problem? Well, I need to score really high on my exams for the highly over- achiever, over-demanding IB program. This program is made for all the "doctors and engineers of tomorrow," and I intend fully to be one of them, but the program is very difficult and demanding. I can't just score an 80% and be happy ... I need 90's!!!!
Why do I need to score so high? Well, if I want to go to those top universities that are offering the scholarships, I need the required grades as they have outlined in their contracts, and then everything is good to go. I just can't seem to focus ... I feel helpless and I honestly feel like I can't do it. I have three weeks until my exam and I feel stressed and overwhelmed at the thought of not doing well and losing out on my dream of going pro for basketball. It makes it worse knowing that my dad is excited, and if I don't do well on my exams ... well, he will be the most disappointed and saddened.
All I want is to be able to focus and study, but my mind keeps wandering to the "what if's" and how I could fail in life. What should I do? How can I concentrate on studying? What should I do to reassure myself? Everyone has their hopes on me, and I'm dying thinking of being a disappointment in the end to my family. I would lose everything my parents have ever done for me. PLEASE HELP, I'M DESPERATE. NO ONE UNDERSTANDS MY SITUATION!
Whoa! First of all, let's get one thing straight: you can't fail in life. It's impossible. Everyone does a little bit of good when they're on Earth, so take that load off. Second, no matter what score you get on any test, it does not mean you're incapable of anything.
Spending negative energy on studying isn't wrong in any way, but it sounds like you have way too much. No one can grab Einstein's brain back from the past, no matter how much it's needed. Will getting an 85% on the IB kill you? I certainly hope not.
The prospect of obtaining a scholarship is huge, but keep in mind; it's one. Even if you don't qualify, the schools you apply to might make up the difference. My brother's just did that when he lost the Cal grant, which is worth upwards of $15,000 if I remember correctly. Not hitting the 90% mark won't keep you from Harvard.
Your family is supportive because they love you. They won't stop loving you even if you end up homeless on the street. Don't fear disappointing them - don't fear the words 'wasted potential,' because from what you've described you're using a truckload more than your peers. Don't become your own enemy! You'll do great things no matter what role you play in life.
Here's how you reassure yourself:
1) Say it aloud: "I've done my best." Even if you've spent the whole evening watching TV. Don't mourn over hours that have already passed, or you'll never stop mourning.
2) Get in the mantra of "What will be, will be."
3) Think today, not tomorrow. I could worry about the fact that I'm graduating in 2012, too, but it won't finish my homework.
4) Talk. I'm sure everyone around you believes in you.
Earlier you said you had everything laid out in front of you for life. Who planned that? Surely it wasn't entirely you. We all conform a little bit. You won't get lost in a crowd if you stay true to yourself, but if pressure's getting you, step out for a round. As soon as you start the actual application process, you'll be a lot calmer. Colleges want you more than you think.
As for others' disappointment, disregard it. All they're doing is magnifying what you already feel (and it isn't helping), so get started on something else; train another member of the team, thank the coach, do something positive that starts a chain reaction. It's a technique that's never failed me.
You'll be fine; trust yourself! Good luck!