Many households are in the middle of exam time. I say households, because it’s not only the Year 12 students themselves, but their families, who are in the grip of the pressure and anxiety black hole that is otherwise known as ATAR exams. At the time of writing this, my niece is halfway through her exams, the culmination of a year during which she has knuckled down, committed to her school work, learnt resilience with obstacles along the way, and really matured as a person. She’s had a year she should be really proud of. Certainly her parents and family are very proud of her. And her exam results won’t change that in our eyes. A few three-hour exams shouldn’t be the be-all and end-all of finishing one chapter of your life and starting another. It’s been more than a couple of decades but I can still remember the feeling leading up to and during final exams, then known as TEE. I put myself under so much pressure that if I didn’t achieve exactly what I wanted, all my hopes and dreams would be over. In the end, I got the marks I needed. However, I still remember bombing out on my best subject because I was so focused on the ones I struggled with. Exams can be a funny thing. But what I quickly learnt pretty soon after sitting my Year 12 exams is there is way more than one way to get where you want to go. And that is even more so today, with alternative pathways galore. If I had my time again, let me tell you I would change quite a few things. It’s a lot of pressure for 17 and 18-year-olds to bear. It’s great to see them want to work hard and aim for their best, but we should be around them to remind them it’s not life or death. Some of the most successful people in life didn’t ace their exams, or didn’t sit them at all. You will soon wonder what all the fuss was about. Your career choices will ebb and flow and the pressures of exams will soon become a distant memory. Because let me tell you, the pressures of being a working and functioning adult are a lot heavier. That’s when the real stress starts.