Of Board Exams, Percentages and Despondency - by Hedwig

The Board Exam results were announced not too long ago, and, as always, they have incited as many reactions as possible. I personally have counted 3 instances of fainting, 5 instances of applying to an engineering college, one instance of destroying the computer, and 10 instances of ‘My-Life-Can-Go-Nowhere-Now’.

Stop.

As much as your parents, grandparents, extended family, cousin twice-removed and your family pet may stress on the importance of the Board Exams, the truth is that those Facebook statuses put up by your seniors are right – The Board Exam results really do not matter.

Of course, anything less than a 95% means that there are slim chances of getting into Engineering or into Medicine, but those two subjects are hardly the be all and end all of education. The fact that you’re here, reading this, is testimony enough that students can and should think of ‘out-of-the-box’ opportunities if that’s what interests them. I, too, had to experience (See also: Suffer) 14 years of the Indian education system and I too almost fainted shouting ‘Hai Ram’ with my hand on my forehead when I checked my Board results.

And let me outline the catastrophe that ensued.

I cried for a little, tried not to open my Facebook feed and, when I did anyway, I specifically ignored the “OMG 97%???!! I would like to thank my parents, my sister, my pet Raven that died 10 years ago and God for this!!” statuses. And now I’m here in a college that could not have an environment more conducive for learning with some of the best Professors to interact with and having made some firm friendships.

You may be thinking – ‘She calls this a catastrophe?’.

No, I don’t. The point is that there was no catastrophe. These marks are no more than a sheet of paper (Or a computer screen. Yay for 21st Century advancements) with some numbers on them and you are more than a sheet of paper, my friend. You are blood, bone, skin and skull and you will be more than what this system says you can be. You have the world in your eyes, oxygen in your lungs and with just who you are, you can do so much more than you think you can.

If you’re reading this and thinking that you don’t need this harsh truth because it’s mere mollycoddling and because you’ve gotten the requisite 99.99%, you’re wrong. Take pride in your achievement, but don’t stop growing. And when you do grow, you’ll realize that your marks can never be a valid measure of who you are. Expand, explore and build satellites on all the universes taking root inside you. There will be moments in your life where you will pause to realize how happy you are. Keep them inside your pockets and count them every time you forget that there can and will be more such moments; dig your fingers through the ever-increasing pile, pick a moment, and stare at it until tears flow freely from your eyes from all the laughter.

Keep your head held high, your chin straight and your shoulders steady. Let the wind scatter the pieces of paper, or the parts of your destroyed computer screen. Your success lies in how much you grow, and to grow, you just have to do.

And, as Vladimir Nobokov said, “The rest is rust and stardust”.