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A letter to the disheartened…

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Firstly, my heartfelt congratulations to all those who passed their exams and have moved up a year higher, or even graduated. Your work has come to a fruition, and a new challenge awaits you. And yet, you are not the only person being addressed at the moment… sorry.

No, I am talking about a select number of people who are not in the best of situations right now: All their dreams seem to have imploded, their self-confidence vanished into thin air, like a personal Exxon-Valdez which has just run aground and destroyed your short-term plans for good. Being unable to achieve the marks needed to pass to the next year is a torrid experience for everyone, no need to sugar coat it.

I have been there, done that… another chapter in my imaginary scrap book, if you would like. And now that I have finally managed to tie up loose, delayed ends, I would like to share some pointers for all of you that might help you…

 

Move Along Quickly…

I remember the day I received my results: I was talking to my course mate on Facebook when he gave me the news that results came out (Mind you, he had failed too). When I saw the published results, my mind went blank, and I stood immobile for a period of time. A rush of questions come flooding through your head: How to tell your parents? How to break it out to your friends? How to manage to face those classmates of yours who were promoted? And what to do?

Well, the first priority is to not panic and break down: Alcohol and narcotics is NEVER a good idea in such a scenario, for an already emotionally unstable student with an unclear mind is an undoubted concoction for disaster. Work out, read, write, or divulge yourself completely in your work, just get that Esims page temporarily out of your head. (No, you will not completely forget what happened…) When this happens, you will eventually get a better taste of the bitter pill and move on to the next stage…

 

Plan Ahead, Both Short-Term and Long-Term…

Receiving bad news is never an excuse to either become a recluse, or let things slide down a slippery slope towards Chaos-ville. While I immediately started long-term planning (like re-printing out timetables and sorting my notes again) I totally abandoned the short-term stuff: It took a phone call from my faculty to remind me that I needed to register for First Year (on the final day, mind you), my study looked more like an abandoned asylum than a place for studying, and my unread email account reached an all-time high.

Sit down, clear up your mind, and make a list of things that you need to do in order to start on the right track, then get them done, one by one. The less rocky the introduction to the year is, the better things will turn out. But before said year starts…

 

Take some time to re-evaluate your past year’s decisions…

Take this as analogically and widespread as possible: Start from how much time you spend in the library (if it was too much or too little), and end with the optional subjects you had the past year, and what are you going to choose the forthcoming year. This is a self-evaluation, and not an excuse to play the blame-game on any particular incidents or people; rather, take some time to decide whether you need to change (not necessarily revolutionize) some of your habits…

One mistake I personally made was that I automatically chose the same subjects that I had the previous year: Although it was comfortable to a point, I soon realized that it did not help me keep myself passionate about the course at all…

As a last resort, if you are completely sure that your heart is no longer in it, do not be afraid to change your direction and course completely, even if this entails taking a gap year to get your requirements up to scratch. It could possibly be the best thing that has ever happened to you, a total miracle in disguise.

 

Never take a “Same sh*t, different day” attitude….

I am taking the leaf out a cheesy Internet quote here, but your path is a step into the unknown: No year is the same as the previous year; new people, (maybe) some new subjects and new lecturers, and whole new opportunities for you to explore. If you want to indulge in your hobbies, do so moderately as an accompaniment, but not as a replacement, for your frequent portions of study.

Yes, sometimes it is plain hard to find interest in stuff you already heard and know by heart from the past year: Nonetheless, neglect is a grave, unforgiving state of mind which will bite you in the backside later on, so always try to stay put.

 

No student is an island…

Exclusion from the world around you may seem convenient for a short period of time, but in the long run it will produce a lot more harm than good. If you feel you should limit yourself from such extra-academic activities, don’t be afraid to do so… but total social exclusion is very rarely the best solution.

 

And finally… Have it your way…

It is YOUR plan, YOUR re-evaluation, YOUR forthcoming exams. Take pointers from other people if you want to (it makes me look less like I have wasted my time writing this article), but in the end, taking charge of your academic year is the ultimate combo breaker… your ticket to achieving what you want the second time around is yourself… your hard working, confident and unafraid self. You will be back stronger than ever, and if you are lucky enough, this year could turn out to be a blessing, rather than a curse.

I know others did, so why not you?

2 thoughts on “A letter to the disheartened…

  1. Sigh says:

    Or… just get a grip and study next time. Whiny little gits.

    • Matthew Charles Zammit says:

      Sometimes, just sometimes, studying turns out to be not enough unfortunately… Extra-ordinary circumstances can come into play, even though they shouldn’t.

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