As a sixteen year old kid in Singapore juggling schoolwork, schoolwork, national exams, and more schoolwork, while struggling to keep up the pretense of a ‘social life’, and making total mental health, you can say my arms are full. Obviously, I’m not the only student who struggles with this, and we’ve all been given really shitty pieces of advice from our teachers and our parents. So today, I’m here to weed out all these shitty pieces of advice and give you the absolute truth.
Shitty piece of advice #1: “Sleep at least eight hours a night for maximum energy.”
The truth: Bullshit. That’s not even remotely possible. ‘At least’ is bullshit. ‘At most’ would be more appropriate and that’s cutting it very close already. You know you’re not going to be able to sleep eight fucking hours and complete your homework AND study for that chemistry test if you end school at 6pm every single day, except Friday, and that dosen’t even count. Nope. Not possible. You have to tough it out the old-fashioned way- get home at 7, eat, shower, and study. Only way to survive.
So my tip is: Caffeine. Caffeine is NOT the enemy- embrace it! In fact, you might want to start asking your parents to invest in Diet Coke or Coke Zero or Red Bull because that’s pretty much going to be your go-to drink. Coffee too if you get used to it. Don’t be afraid to spam caffeine- embrace it! It will be your #1 saviour as you burn the midnight oil. I practically live off caffeine. However, caffeine has that iPhone battery effect on me. After about 1 hour, I’ve gone from 100% to flat out passed out on my desk. God’s honest truth.
Shitty piece of advice #2: Don’t sleep in any class.
Um. Okay. I agree with this statement somewhat. Don’t fall asleep in the classes that you’re weak in. I make it a point to never sleep in Math because I’m absolute shit at Math. DON’T SLEEP IN THAT BIOLOGY CLASS IF YOU’RE BAD AT BIO. NO. But I don’t agree totally that you can’t sleep in ANY class.
First things first, you have to be smart about which class you plan to sleep in. That chem class where that teacher’s just the right amount of boring and you know you’re not absorbing anything? Yep, go ahead. Have a nice forty minute nap or whatever that is the duration of your class. It’s also okay to fall asleep in lit once in a while, but try to limit it, because there isn’t exactly a lit textbook, and what your teacher has to say about the book is important because different interpretations and key elements are very important in crafting a good lit essay. SparkNotes is NOT very helpful most of the time. I had a boring senior lit teacher last year- holy shit, I slept in 80% of her classes. Yeah, my lit grades last year were fucking bad. Like, C5 bad. This year, I didn’t sleep and I’m top. So try not to sleep in classes where info isn’t mainly textbook-based. Occasionally, yeah, okay, but make sure to copy your friend’s notes or whatever.
Shitty piece of advice #4: Eat healthy and exercise!
No. Just no. While exercise does relieve endorphins, and eating tofu and kale does have its benefits in the long run, it’s not very constructive. This is an opinion, but working out absolutely sucks balls. Seriously. Getting your heart rate elevated to an unnatural rhythm? Sweat all over you? There’s only one time I need to sweat, and that’s when I’m taking an exam, or panicking as I make up some excuse for not doing some random piece of homework. Exercise to me, and to all lot of us is more stressful than it is stress-relieving. Besides, most people exercise to lose weight and/or look good. That’s why my friends work out… To get skinny arms and abs and legs with definition and whatever it is that comes with exercising. I don’t need to wake up at 6am to go into a simulation of getting a heart attack. Running is hard, okay. (Side note, been there, done that.) Whatever free time I have shall be spent reading something other than my textbook or lit texts and doing something equally stress-relieving like shopping or sleeping or binge eating.
About the food… It’s good to eat healthy. But most of the time, I’m so stressed out that all I want is a basket of fries. And a cheesy pizza. And a double fudge cake. I know that’s a little weird coming from a vegetarian (personal reasons, feel free to pry and I will blog about this) but yeah. It used to be cheeseburgers, but now, just carbs on carbs on fat. Yep. Of the few times I hang out with friends, we mainly just eat. I went on an official binge-fest with one of my best friends and we ate four meals in one sitting. No joke. I had 3 Subway cookies, 1 Steak and Cheese sandwich (before vegetarianism), a gigantic cup of froyo, a piece of cake, a milkshake, and a McValue meal. No kidding. And you wonder how a 48kg (at the time, now I weigh more), five foot three girl would stomach all that. Just eat what you want. When I tried eating healthy, I was mostly just sad and deprived. I’m still young and I don’t give a flying fuck if I eat one whole cheesy pizza with fries on top.
Shitty piece of advice #4: Just get spiritual.
Yeah, thanks mom. But somehow, when I got caught up between school shit, friend shit, family shit, and mental shit, I stopped consistently having faith anymore. I think this is a very personal opinion, but this year with national exams, I got very stressed and worried all the time, and my faith started dwindling. Sometimes, telling someone to just pray more dosen’t work, because what the hell is that even supposed to mean? I’m more likely to be reading my textbook than the Bible, and when you’ve got major exams, you just don’t really have time to listen to people telling you vaguely to “just pray”.
Shitty piece of advice #5: Spend more time with family and friends to foster strong relationships!
As good as this one sounds, I’m afraid I’m going to have to call this one out on its bullshit. This isn’t very true because when you’re under a lot of stress from schoolwork and mental stress and PMS and hormones and whatever that comes with being a teenager going through puberty, your attitude just starts to change completely. And people will tell you to change but that isn’t always the case because it’s not very easy. You go from a happy-go-lucky kid to a girl (in my case) who gets her period, develops curves, becomes more conscious about her body (especially in today’s society glorifying childlike bodies on women, and beauty equating to thinness, etc) and feels the pressure to fit in with the crowd. As if it’s not enough to deal with all this, plus constantly being sad, then happy, then angry, you’re still expected to remain the same. The truth is you’re no longer “Daddy’s little girl” or the child who helps with the housework and is happy and smiles and laughs all the time. It becomes harder to spend time with your family as a teenager because you’re always busy, and always pissed, and don’t you dare tell me to deal with it because the people who accuse of being ‘cold’ are the people who can’t accept the fact that you’re growing up and need your own time and space. Friendship wise, it becomes more difficult to trust and make friends with people especially in today’s competitive society. It seems like everyone is using each other to score better grades and discover new studying techniques, scheming. Friend turns upon friend as the competition gets tougher and tougher. It’s not easy, and dealing with this is terrible and heartbreaking.
Shitty piece of advice #6: Don’t pull all-nighters and cram everything into your head. It dosen’t work.
Bullshit again. You have to do it, because at one point all your extra-curricular activities and homework will all start piling and you’ll get lost. Really really lost. Then all of a sudden you have a major history test coming along and then you find yourself at your desk and 9pm wondering how in the world did you get into this shit. So you HAVE TO burn the midnight oil. With caffeine and your textbook. Cramming does work and at one point you have to do it. I guess you could look at it like crash-dieting. It works but all the weight disappears for a short while only. You’re skinny for a short while only for that event or party. It’s totally unsustainable to have an organised studying plan all the time. You will find yourself not even caring if you understand this shit about Hitler or the Gulf War, goddammit, you’ll just memorise. Because you find out, at great lengths, that you just have to take all the crap in the textbook and vomit it back out in the test. Just do it. But then again, burning the midnight oil is not very fun.
Maybe I made a mistake when I said ‘shitty advice’. It’s not really shitty advice. It’s good advice that is extremely hard to stick to and not sustainable. You can’t eat healthily and exercise and pray and sleep well everyday. You don’t even have to try. Just do what works for you, and just hang on. You can say ‘fuck you’ to me in the comments later for saying ‘hang on’, but hey, that’s exactly what we have to do. Just fucking do it and be done with it. Do what you have to do to get out of the hellhole and study and do what you love.