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anxiety&fear about future

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Hi!

I know that I'm writing about something typical for IB: stress, but I really need to write about it, to tell about my problem.

I'm an IB student and my biggest problem is the fact that I live in permanent anxiety about my education, test results and consequently, future. My biggest fear is getting poor IB and SAT scores, what will make studying abroad impossible. My family is able to cover only a small percentage of costs of studying abroad, which makes me highly motivated to get a merit-based scholarship. I do my best, but I increasingly freak out. For example, I'm waiting for my SAT Subjects results and sometimes I can't sleep because I start thinking about all the questions I answered wrong and I end up crying. Or I've just started my summer holiday, I gave myself a few weeks off until I start writing IAs but I can't relax. Or I cried after receiving results of one of my mocks or when I couldn't understand how to do a lab report. Or I slept for nearly 13 hours after both SAT I and SAT II, and I think it was caused by a good deal of stress. 

You may regard me as a hysteric, I am aware of it. But I never cry at school. I always do it alone. Usually, I'm a friendly, sociable person but there are moments when I can't help but thinking how many things are waiting for me; SAT second attempt, applying to unis, May session. Sometimes I feel that I won't make it to May, that I will not stand the next year of stress and fear and taking into consideration how terrible the final year seems to be, I fear the worst. I just don't want to disappoint my family, who invested a good deal of money in my education, who supports me and hopes for the best. I'm not giving up, I also hope for the best but I keep thinking that I've developed some kind of obsession and I've got no idea how to break free. Am I the only one who goes mad because of IB? Have you ever been in a similar situation?

 

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You are not the only one, but you cannot continue to live like this. It sounds like this is not the best for your health. Putting IB and all your other responsibilities aside for a minute, you have to be in a mentally well place to achieve your full potential. I suggest you start putting this as a priority, as you would a physical ailment. Maybe you could start to see the school counsellor or talk to your doctor. Speak to someone about this. 

 

Yes IB causes people stress but you have to learn to manage stress effectively in a way that it doesn't cripple you. Because today it's IB and tomorrow it may be something else. Also try not to give up no matter what. I'm sure your family value your wellbeing over everything, it's important for you to protect that.

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We would be fools not to worry about our future -- but we're also fools to worry too much because it brings us down and can't stop tomorrow from coming either way.

Sure, the university applications, mocks, and tests like SAT can give piles of stress to anyone, especially if the person is anxious to do his/her best for one reason or another. And sure, it is amazing that you are so motivated to use the opportunities your parents have given you but demands great self-discipline. And no one has ever said the IB was going to be easy, or at least they never tried to lie to us about it. So all in all, it's a lot for one student even without going into details such as interviews, language proficiency tests and IAs. What follows is that it's no surprise for me to hear that you're basically terrified you're not gonna handle the upcoming year.

But you're not the only one who is/was terrified. The trick is to manage this fear and use it as propelling force. Right now it is going to keep you down because it is draining your most important resources, physically (lack of sleep/rest) and mentally (lack of positive motivation), which might affect your performance in this most important year. Short-term stress is good because it makes sure your body devotes all energy to the single cause you're concerned with. Long-term stress kills off your abilities, which I assume deserve to be properly put into use. In short, freaking out won't help even if there is a lot to freak out about. 

My suggestion (apart from the suggestions given by the previous contributor, which I wholeheartedly support) is that you do not try to encompass everything happening around you in the next few months but rather break it down into small tasks which you carry out one by one. Moreover, if not working on IAs makes you feel bad, why not work? I don't mean sitting whole day trying to figure it out but give them a touch. A draft of one section or skimming through a book. This will calm you down and make your job easier later on. 

Finally, do not think so much about your family's expectations. I know I did in the first year, and I lost out on many remarkable moments of the IB because initially I didn't see it as an opportunity or adventure but a tool to achieve my superior divine aim. That's a mishap. That's going through two years of your life without really experiencing them since you mark them as temporary already at the beginning. Also, focusing on your self-development and not on what someone else wants you to be or the final results will take the pressure off. 

The greatest minds were successful because they enjoyed and exploited the path all along (and learned from mistakes), not because they predetermined its end. 

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You are most definitely not the only one to stress this badly over work, and that is very unfortunate. Overthinking is something we're all guilty of at one point or another, and it's perfectly normal to want to do well and succeed.

HOWEVER
This amount of stress and anxiety is far from healthy, and above everything, your health (physical and mental) should be your main concern. Being in the IB program, there's a bit of an overachiever in all of us, but there's a line between wanting to do well, and sacrificing your well being for a grade or score. This may sound a bit harsh, but constant worrying over a test or grade isn't going to change anything. Whether you think about it every second, or not at all, once it's turned in, you can't go back and change it.

That being said, I would advise you to re-evaluate your current study system, and see how you can improve it. Instead of worrying about scores after it's too late to fix them, do your best to prepare for them in advance to ease some of the worry. Of course, if you're doing your best, that's all you can ask of yourself and that's all anyone else can ask of you. Don't beat yourself up over less than perfect grades, rather focus on improving in the future.

Be a warrior, not a worrier. Good luck! :)

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Hi everyone, I really would like to thank you all for your responses. They meant a lot to me and I'll surely come back here to read them if I have a hard time. I hope to master the skill of controlling my stress and enjoy my path to unis to the fullest. 

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