Ominvox - 1 new grade: Oh no.
Performance anxiety, university applications, and all in between
Photo via The New York Times
Author’s note : Most students will experience anxiety at some point or another. However, if it starts to interfere with your daily life or to affect your health and/or relationships, you should perhaps consider getting in touch with a mental health professional. Don’t let it get the best of you.
I hope the headline didn’t scare you too much. But, if it did, just know you are not alone. December was a rough month for most of us. Time to start new and fresh again… Right? With university applications right around the corner, R scores coming out, and a totally different semester ahead, there isn’t much time to sit back and relax. Rising levels of stress have now become day-to-day normalities.
After tedious research on this phenomenon, I realized that the best way to tackle the issue was to speak with the targeted people themselves: Dawson students. After reading the replies to a series of questions I asked in a survey, many interesting points were brought up. The words that people mentioned most were “fear,” “pressure,” and “success.” Many defined “academic performance anxiety” as the stress related to not living up to the expectations set by ourselves. Obsessing over achievements, having nightmares of failure, feeling your heartbeat fluctuate with your grades, comparing yourself to everyone... Does it ring a bell?
Anonymous students shared their experience with test anxiety and the feeling of not being enough. Indeed, it can be incredibly discouraging to receive negative feedback over something you poured your heart into, to get a bad grade on a project you sacrificed your sleep for, or to have your future determined by a single number. Yet, surprisingly, some students see performance anxiety as a way to motivate themselves. Perhaps this is due to my own bias, but I never bothered to view failure in a positive light. A student in the survey mentioned, “It somewhat motivates me to be disciplined, but it also makes me feel bad whenever I don't feel satisfied with my performance. It’s a love-hate relationship.”
For those who applied or who are currently applying to university, the process can be incredibly nerve-racking. Many fear being forgettable, disappointing their parents, or feeling like they haven’t worked enough throughout their studies. Considering this might be a difficult period for many, here are some words of motivation to start your new, or perhaps last, semester with positivity. Life is more than a single path; we are adaptive beings who will find ways to thrive regardless. Your grades do not define you, nor do they determine your value as an individual. For the art students out there, this is a reminder that grades do not define your creativity and talent and that you should not let those limit you. An anonymous student from the survey wrote, “It will pass one way or another,” and I stand by that. Your health and well-being are much more important than a class average.
Now you might be thinking, “I’ve heard motivational speeches before, but what I need right now is to relax.” I thought ahead. Here are some ideas to calm down, all provided by other anonymous students: naps, long baths with lavender, talking to other people, reaching out to a long lost friend, hugs, sports, watching ASMR videos, hiking Mount Royal, breathing exercises, yoga, meditation, video games, eating your favorite foods, drawing, journaling, petting a dog or joining a club. You could also listen to very angry rock. At full volume. Be the main character.
Nonetheless, fearing the future is normal. Progress is not linear; it’s La Ronde’s Goliath. Failure is a part of life. I said it before, but I can’t stress it enough: look how far you’ve come! We are still so young. We have all our lives ahead of us. So, follow your dreams, whatever they are, but most importantly, live for yourself.