Love in the time of Corona — Chapter 1
Apologies for borrowing and playing with that title from Marquez, but it seems rather appropriate for this post. This one is particularly for students in India (and perhaps, in some other parts of the world) who have crucial exams (such as the SSC and HSC board exams in Maharashtra, India).
My heart goes out to students who may already be stressed by the sense of competition built up by pressure from self, peers and parents. Any added stress such as a world disrupted by a virus is like the proverbial last straw.
I completed high school through the Maharashtra board system. And I happen to belong to a batch that was generally deemed unlucky in our times at school, because of repeated incidences of haphazard changes of curriculum through several years of school, with us being the guinea pigs who were experimented upon (hopefully, to the benefit of those who came after). We were one of those rare batches that actually had to take our SSC board exams twice (yes, you read that right) because the Board figured that the exam questions were apparently leaked to a few people before the first exams. So after publishing the results, they declared it invalid and we went through some of the exams again.
As someone who never enjoyed school and the education system then (and I am trying hard not to rant now), I remember the anguish of those days, with all eyes on the student at home, proffered with abundant unsolicited advice (largely fears of adults conveniently projected on the child), motivational (supposedly) talks and of course, reduced leisure time.
Over 20 years on, if I could look back and talk to my younger self, I would say, “Stay centered. Ignore the background noise as much as you can. Trust your gut. Study, if you enjoy learning. Else, find creative ways to learn just enough to pass the exams and move on in life. And know that a few years down, the scores/grades that agonize you now will absolutely cease to matter.”
Here’s to you students — whatever you are going through, remember to love yourself in these times. Allow the virus to bring you closer to yourself and your dreams. Drown the noise around and nurture those dreams. Reach out to mentors you trust, if you like. Here’s your chance to reimagine the world, and lay its foundations. The exam is not about the scores. It’s a test of how you show up in the world, when this is all over.