I had that dream again on Monday night. The one where I’m sat back in my Thornhill College uniform staring down the barrel at my History A Level again waiting for the dreaded exam paper to be turned over.
Even in my sleep I break out in a cold sweat - my heart beats a little faster and I get the urge to run far away or hide under the desk.
Of course there is always that glorious, wonderful moment when I realise that my dream is, in fact, just that and I remember exams are all behind me and I get to do wonderful grown up non-examy things instead.
And the horror of the exams are only part of the pressure. The wait for results is almost worse - as many young people will find out in the next week.
There is that feeling of helplessness as you wait for the envelope to pop through the door and unleash the results that will, at least, determine the next few years of your life. Although when you are 16, or 18, the next few years of your life does in fact feel like the entire rest of your life.
Isn’t it madness that we put our young people under such pressure? Isn’t it awful that they feel they must define themselves by grades on a paper? That they can feel as if they are letting themselves and others down if they don’t perform as well as they may have hoped.
My son is going into Primary 6 this year. Already he is surrounded by talk that this is “big year”. Already there are times when I look at his face and I see genuine fear at the thought of not only the hard work ahead, but the “big test” and the anxious wait for results.
And no matter how much I try to assure him that yes, Primary 6 will be an intense enough year, I will be proud of him no matter what, and that he is more than the measure of an exam - already at just nine he feels pressurised to do well.
Isn’t it a shame that in this day and age so much about our young people is measured in terms of academic success and exam results. Of course I’m not naive enough to think we can exist in a society where we are never judged or measured but isn’t a shame that common sense doesn’t prevail at times. That an exam holds more weight than a year’s worth of work or performance, that someone’s personality, passion and skills count for little or nothing.
That we weight our success on one silly little day and whatever form we may be in on that day. I hope everyone waiting on exam results now realises they are worth much more than that.