Of Anxiety: Exam Horrors

Hi everyone, so I just want to talk about something that I rarely tell people, which is my anxiety.

I suppose in my society where there is a huge emphasis on exams and either-ace-it-or-flunk-it mentality, people nowadays get a tad highly-strung up when they start making the dash for practice drills, graded assignment deadlines and whatnot.

As for me, my first taste of test-related anxiety was when I was taking an English essay diagnostic test in the my third year in middle school. I got that damned writer’s block, and I couldn’t write more than a few pathetic sentences before my engine went totally dead. So I panicked. I thought of myself not being able to finish my essays during the O Levels, and flunking it, and that would be a great pity as I had been consistent in my work, and I love writing, have many ideas about writing and I had put in so much effort in writing… All these thoughts came whamming in my brain.

So somehow after that episode I started to have that streak of paranoia when it comes to essay tests, like I was the most jittery the night before English essay tests. Since English is always the first subject to be tested in the whole list of examinations, to me it’s a sort of terrible, palpitating, pent up maelstrom within me that gets just the cathartic flood of garbled ideas and uncontrolled gush of emotions during the actual performance. And after that the others are quite a breeze, relatively speaking.

Actually I am more of the panicky type by nature. Like I often worry about getting up late for school, forgetting to do homework, though I did every single piece of homework first thing after school and am never late for school. These little bit of everyday issues didn’t really drive me berserk, but it hit the limit during my graduating year in middle school. It was in October, the O levels were looming menacingly round the corner, and I thought I had so many revision undone that I just freaked out totally. For the entire week, my heartbeat was fluctuating crazily, my mind was a total blank and I would lock myself up in the bedroom and cry. It was one of the worst periods of my schooling life, and I felt so desperately alone and there’s nobody to turn to for help, as so coincidentally it was study break and there’s nobody that I knew from my cohort who was in school. One unforgettable memory I had was when during a weekend, suddenly I just felt I couldn’t take it anymore. My moods was like a roller coaster, going highs and lows in a dizzying rush, one moment I felt like a superstar ready to take on all the drill practices, and the next moment I felt like a total loser in the eve of an apocalypse. The mountains were crumbling down on me and I’ve got nowhere to hide. I ended up frantically punching the numbers down the list of hotlines in the student handbook: Tinkle Friend, Care Corner, even Pregnancy Crisis Hotline. But nobody answered (damn it was a Sunday) So when I finally dialled the SOS hotline, after ringing like a zillionth time, finally somebody picked up the call. I was crying so hard that the person on the other end seemed pretty shocked. After talking (or rather sobbing) my woes to him I felt so much better. But still I ended up having an emotional breakdown in front of a teacher a couple of days later, which landed me in the clinic (though the doctor refused to give me drugs), and I almost got referred to the Institute of Mental Health, but in the end the suggestion was dropped.

But eventually I still went through the exams without much hiccups, although I didn’t really do very well in them.

Well I guess besides my usual panicky personality, there were some other factors that contributed to this huge major anxiety attack. Actually I had chosen the course that didn’t suit me, and I had to endure and loathe it for two years. Next my school had this unstated branding of classes according to their academic capabilities and subject combinations and my class was the so-called ‘best class’, so competition was really intense, especially among ourselves. And I wasn’t really cut out for this environment, so not surprisingly, it had been the most tortuous two years of my teenage life.

So for now in high school, while I still have a long way to go in dispelling my anxiety altogether, me exam-panicking condition has improved quite a lot. I guess it is due to the relatively laid back atmosphere of my new school, and there is no branding of classes or other related nonsense.

So well, I guess for now exam horror not that big an issue at the moment yet (and hopefully never) I am satisfied with my course, building confidence and well, pacing myself in general. I hope this can give you guys a bit of my perspective in exam terrors. Thank you for reading 🙂


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