My advice for getting through 5th year

Robyn shares her tips for dealing with the stresses of starting 5th Year.

Written by Robyn Gilmour


Let’s just take a moment to cry together because although I was looking forward to starting a new year and learning new things, fifth year was a shock that no amount of warning could prepare me for. I won’t go into the ins and outs of it and give you the negative points because you’ll figure them out yourself soon enough if it all lies ahead of you. Here are my top tips for surviving your initiation into fifth year.

Know that yes, many a night this heart of stone, that scoffed at The Notebook and rarely sheds a tear over… anything really, went home and sobbed for hours because she couldn’t do her maths homework. Many a late night was spent doing homework and thinking, “this cannot possibly last for a whole year” and sipping black coffee. However, I found comfort in the fact that everyone my age, regardless of their school, background or personal situation was experiencing the same thing.

No matter how crappy I felt, I could always find reassurance in coming into school and standing in the doorway of the locker room with half a tonne of books on my back and a bitter, empty expression on my face and it mirroring the look of everyone else in the room. You get that sneaky look on your friend’s face that just says “can you believe this?” and a moment of unexplained laughter makes the whole thing a little more manageable.

Something I also learned is that there is a fine line between talking about your worries and having an impact on other people. There comes a point where you’re not sure if you’re chronically depressed or just having a bad week. And ranting on to try and get some of the heavy stuff off your chest can simply be dumping it all onto someone else.

Like I said, everyone is in the same boat so making a tough situation tougher is going to have an influence on other people. If you need to talk about something or are having a tough time, I would advise you to make sure the person you talk about it with is separate to your situation and won’t be influenced by your negativity. Also know when you’re in the opposite situation and you can’t cope with your own problems without taking on-board someone else’s problems; you can’t be a crutch when you only have one leg to stand on.

Stop working at 9/10 o’clock whether you have your homework done or not. Depriving yourself of sleep won’t do yourself any favours and if you do need a few late nights to catch up on homework and the like, make sure you reward yourself for them and have a lie in at the weekend. Teachers in school at career meetings will tell you to lead a balanced lifestyle. Let’s be realistic here though, a balanced lifestyle is not going to be completely possible this year but for the first month at least I will go to the grave saying that you have to have at least one full day off at the weekend, spent out with your friends and whatnot. You need to have support to survive the initiation into fifth year.

I would recommend after school study. It seems like hassle but after a year of your house being associated with daydreams and wandering aimlessly, I find it hard to concentrate enough to get dressed in the morning. If I’ve taken anything from the advice I’ve been given, it’s to start working the moment your feet hit the ground because I’ll tell you now, the pace seriously picks up and I would be lost without my notes. Whatever way you study best, make sure your start in September.

Motivation is also key. Whatever shape or form it might come in for you.  For me I’ve started an ‘adventure fund’ for when I’m finished school. Seems a bit far-fetched now but  it’s just a little reminder that there is light at the end of the tunnel and there is an exciting life waiting for you when these tough two years are over. I also take at least half an hour working on my art portfolio (watch this space for more information) or reading or writing and whatnot before bed each night. It’s the little things that will make a big difference in fifth year.

[Chocolate is also essential]

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