6 months. Six months until I start university. Until I grow up. Until I’m classified as an adult.
Until I move out. Until I become independent. In six months, I grow up and start a fresh chapter.
The next phase of my journey that is life. And writing about it alone is quite overwhelming when I think of the emotional rollercoaster the last seven years of my life have been, to think that I’m at the final hurdle is both a relief but also rather stressful. As students, our lives can be very monotonous—sleep, school, homework, and repeat.
Some of us may partake in extracurricular activities but sometimes they aren’t as relaxing as they should be and, in some cases, make you more agitated. These last few weeks have been really difficult for me—I have had my midterm exams in preparation for my A-levels (which didn't go as well as I wanted them to); I’ve had an emotional wobble and I’m recovering from a recent injury whilst playing netball. It’s safe to say it’s been difficult. But I definitely think I've been able to manage my stress effectively in these times and I’ll take you through how:
1) Acknowledge the source of stress.
Sometimes it’s a short-term cause—like exam pressure, college and university applications, future prospects and the idea of graduating, growing up, and moving in being scary and rightfully so. The future and the concept of change is terrifying—it’s foreign, it’s uncomfortable and it doesn’t feel safe which makes sense. But ultimately, the only way to grow as a person is to face the unknown, to push yourself out of your comfort zone and become a better person.
You don't improve by staying safe and residing within that which is familiar. The best way to grow is to spread your wings and soar. After all, if you don't try, you'll never know. And once you try, you can say you've given your all to whatever it was.
Other times, it's the long-term factors—like emotional baggage. And honestly, it's normal. I can definitely say that expressing my emotions has always been a last point of call.
Though I've been getting better at asking for help, I still tend to want to keep them bottled inside. And it shouldn’t be—there's only so long you can hold the emotions in before they spill over. And if the last two years have taught me anything, it's that emotions are unpredictable.
They'll come out at the worst time and they take a while to overcome. It's healthy to let it go and talk to someone about whatever it is. Don't feel like there's no one to speak to.
It’s honestly so healthy and it helps you feel better. If you’re like me and don’t cry often, a good cry is sometimes all you need to get yourself back in the right mindset as you let all the feelings of negativity and pressure go. Emotional expression for many equates to vulnerability: due to gender norms attached with emotional availability, those who cry are perceived to be weaker as women are typically attributed to emotions.
But in fact, emotional expression to me is a sign of your inner strength. Ultimately, we are all human and whilst life is indeed about pushing yourself to greater extents, challenging yourself to be better and stepping outside of your comfort zone, part of growing is being able to acknowledge when you’ve reached your own physical, emotional and mental limits and being proud of all you accomplish get that far. Crying is a way to let go of any built-up emotion and set yourself free.
A night's good sleep is necessary. Sleep is the body’s way of recharging after a long day and energising yourself for the day to come. Sleep allows you to experience peace and serenity as you drift off into a different world.
And sometimes, when things get tough, sleep provides a temporary escape from real-world problems that we have to tackle daily. Sleep well. And sleep peacefully. You'll feel better later.
4) Spend time in the natural world.
One thing about nature is that it is still everlasting, ever-enduring and beautiful. The interactions between the trees and the birds they harbour; the insects and the nectar they absorb; animals in their families. I always say that being one with the eternity of the natural world is a gift.
Sunsets, the light breeze hitting your face, the inhalation of fresh air. Nature is beautiful. Cherish it.
5) Talk to people.
I think the lack of wanting to speak to people stems from a fear of judgment. We become preoccupied with how people perceive us and we all want to be perceived as strong and stable. But sometimes our world wobbles.
And that’s okay. The important thing is that you establish a strong support network of family, friends, and colleagues who care about you and will always be willing to listen to you. My mum reminds me that a problem shared is half solved and sometimes it may feel like you can’t articulate what the issue is.
That’s fine. Sometimes, you feel off and can't work put why. The important thing is that you have a safe space to let it out without feeling judged and working towards feeling like yourself again.
6) Work hard.
It's the only way to get the best grades. I believe in working hard and smart: managing your time efficiently, prioritising tasks accordingly, sometimes sacrificing your social life to get the grades you need to do whatever you want to. And in line with working hard, it’s important to take frequent breaks and ensure you’re feeling good mentally.
7) Believe in yourself and your ability.
If you don’t believe in yourself, it’s difficult for people to believe in you. It starts from learning self-love. Having strong belief in yourself and where your ability can take you.
And sometimes, all you need is your own personal belief in yourself to attempt and accomplish any task that you wish to. Believe that you can.
School life is difficult. Growing up alongside, finding yourself and trying to be a normal person all whilst managing continuous physical strains: it’s even harder. But as long as you have a strong support system, a firm belief that you will achieve all that you wish to achieve, you’ll succeed.
It’s a chapter in our lives, a phase. It’s a time for growth, for laughter, for improvements, for failures, for rebounds and for achievements. However long it is you have left, make the most of it and utilise every moment that you have.
You’ve got this. And I have faith in all of us and our success.