During my academic days, I used to experience a sense of low mood and frustration right before my exams. The anxiety of not being able to perform up to my expectations would sometimes keep me up at night. I would study as much as possible, but the fear of not doing well would always linger in the back of my mind. Beating the blues by taking breaks and engaging in activities never crossed my mind back then. I could only access my patterns and improve on the gaps afterwards.

Van Gough style painting of a girl sitting in frustration with her coursework in front of her.

I could never quite figure out why in the past, but as I look back on that time, I realise there were many reasons for those feelings. One of the main reasons was the pressure I felt to perform better than my classmates. This pressure stemmed from the constant comparisons between students’ test results, which often became a topic of conversation in my household. I always felt like I was being judged and evaluated based on how I measured up to my classmates.

It was hard to feel like I was good enough or had anything unique to offer. Unfortunately, this kind of constant comparison led me to lose self-confidence. I felt like I was not good enough or did not measure up to others—this inculcated feelings of low self-esteem, resulting in anxiety and depression at specific points.

“Extreme fear can neither fight nor fly.”

William Shakespeare

Additionally, I was often too hard on myself and would set unrealistic expectations for my performance. I also needed proper study habits and would often procrastinate until the last minute, adding to my stress level. The blues used to get to me. The pressure to achieve good grades was immense, and it often felt like my entire future depended on it.

Looking back…

  1. I wish I had realised that grades are not everything. Many other qualities, such as determination, hard work, and creativity, are essential for success.
  2. I wish I kept things in perspective and not let the stress of exams consume me.
  3. I wish my family and teachers had recognised the adverse effects of comparing students and instead encouraged me to focus on my strengths and areas for improvement. It would have made a big difference in my educational experience.
Van Gough style painting of a girl sitting in her room with her books Infront of her and beating the blues.

Despite all that, I am glad that I never gave up on myself and refused to let these negative emotions take control of me. I knew I had to take charge of my learning and develop effective strategies to overcome my anxiety.

The challenging experience of constantly being compared to my peers in school taught me the value of focusing on my unique strengths and working on areas where I needed improvement. To achieve this, I consciously developed good reading habits for academic purposes.

Beating the Blues:

Starting in 7th standard, I committed to reading for at least 30 minutes daily. During that time, my cousin brought me a series of Harry Potter books, which initially helped me stick to those 30 minutes. Gradually, reading improved my vocabulary and comprehension skills and allowed me to explore new ideas and perspectives. Practising reading regularly gave me a better understanding of the subjects I was studying and helped me approach my coursework with more confidence. Over time, I slowly understood that everyone has distinctive strengths and weaknesses and that grades do not solely determine success.

As I continued to read more, I found that I could retain information better and analyse the material I was learning more critically. Reading became a crucial part of my study routine, which ultimately helped me excel academically. Looking back, I’m grateful that I developed these good reading habits because they have served me well beyond my school years. Reading has become a lifelong passion of mine, and I credit it with helping me become a more knowledgeable, curious, and well-rounded individual.

“The whole world opened to me when I learned to read.”

Mary McLeod Bethune
Van Gough style painting of a girl sitting on the ground with a book in her hand and enjoying reading.

Challenge Yourself:

Beating the blues is a challenging feat, but it’s possible. With a positive attitude and a willingness to change, anyone can overcome negative emotions and achieve their goals. It’s important to remember that setbacks are a normal part of the learning process and that we can always learn from our mistakes and grow as individuals. So let’s keep pushing forward, one step at a time; take a deep breath and never give up on ourselves!