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You are not your exam results

Yovella Ball, 8th Aug 2019
Tags: Life Blog Education Exams Identity

Exams. Just the word fills most people with dread. Whether it’s your GCSEs, A-Levels, or driving test, I’m sure you’ve experienced exam stress at some point; or maybe you’re worried that you will experience it soon.

For some people it’s a lot of sleepless nights, tossing or turning in bed, or perhaps pulling another all-nighter to maximise revision.

For others, it is procrastination, you can’t motivate yourself to work and as a result feel like time is running out, like falling sand in an hourglass. 

A man studying
Image Credit: Giphy

For me it was a constant, gnawing feeling in my stomach, an anxiety that ate away at me. I was in year 13, studying for my A Levels and I needed to get certain grades so that I could get into my top university. 

I felt like my entire life depended on what grades I achieved.

Throughout the year, this pressure inside me grew and grew and I felt like my entire life depended on what grades I achieved in these nine exams.

I began to put my worth in my academic achievement.

A good grade in a class essay would fill me with happiness, but a bad grade would bring me crashing down, causing me to question my self-worth and whether I really was good enough.

boy gets an A grade
Image Credit: tenor

I’m not musical or artistic (and I am definitely not sporty), but I have always enjoyed school, so when I began to struggle it really impacted the way that I viewed myself. If I couldn’t do the one thing that I was supposed to be good at, how could I do anything?

I saw my worth and identity as the same thing as my achievements.

You see, I made one simple error. I saw my worth and identity as the same thing as my achievements. And, as a result of that, I grew more anxious as we got closer to exam season. 

In fact, I was terrified that I wouldn’t get my grades or get to university, and my whole life would be ruined. Both my identity and plan for my life was dependent on these exams.

Man sad in exam
Image Credit: tenor

But the idea that our worth is based on how good we are, be that at sport, singing, or exams, is a complete lie. 

As a Christian, I was comforted throughout this time that my identity and worth is actually founded in God’s love for me. I found peace in knowing that God would love me no matter what grades I achieved. 

Work at it with all your heart.

One Bible verse that helped me was Colossians 3:23, which says: 'Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.' 

This verse shows that it’s important to work hard, but not to impress others or even yourself. 

You can’t even work to impress God. Because he already loves you.

two girls surprised and happy
Image Credit: tenor

Working for God might seem like a strange idea. 

For me it just meant that I worked hard, not to impress others or make myself feel better about who I was, but because I was good at it and I enjoyed it. 

I changed my attitude to work and my achievements. It is no longer the source of my identity, but more of an outcome, something good and enjoyable. 

I don’t feel exam stress in the same way.

My identity is founded in God’s love, something that can’t change, like grades, and something that is constant and reliable. And as a result, I know who I am.

Because of this, I don’t feel exam stress in the same way. 

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Of course, exams are still scary and I know that they are still important. You need certain GCSEs to get to college or sixth form, then certain grades to get to the next stage.

My advice is, remember that your worth does not come from your achievements or how well you do. I would say it comes from someone who loves you very much.

So when you have exams coming up, good luck, and remember, you are not your exam results. You are so much more.

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