Saturday 29 November 2014


Reader Gina is clever, gets good grades and is predicted to get excellent exam results… so why is she crying herself to sleep every night?

Gina says:
I have always done pretty well at school and enjoyed my work… I would happily push myself because I liked to get good marks and feel that I was doing well. When my parents suggested I sit the entrance exam for a private school I agreed, flattered that they thought I could do it. I passed with flying colours and things stepped up a level… new opportunities were opening up for me, new subjects and skills and possibilities. I was determined to give it everything I had, to make a real go of it. I wanted to make everyone proud.

I am not sure when or how things started to go wrong. The school is amazing, and my teachers are fantastic. I love the work… or I did, to start with. I had big ideas and all kinds of hopes and dreams to go to a top university and build a career doing something awesome, something that might change the world. And then, slowly, things began to change. I started to feel tired, weary almost. I didn't fizz with enthusiasm when given a new project. I didn't feel elated when I got a good report or passed a test. I stopped caring as much, somehow. I was going through the motions.

My parents have noticed I am a bit quiet, and they're worried, I think. They keep telling me to focus on school and work harder on my studies, and that it will be worth it in the end. They say if I get good exam grades and a place at a top university, then eventually I can relax a bit. But I don't think I will ever get to the point where I can relax. I think there will always be another exam, another pressure, another hurdle to clamber over. When I look at the future all I can see are exams and essays and projects going on and on forever and ever. It's like a treadmill I can never jump off.

I look around now and see my old friends from primary school days and they look happy to me - they have friends, and boyfriends, and they do fun stuff, and I know they still have worries and troubles but I bet they are not crying themselves to sleep because they hate the way their lives have turned out. I feel like I have made all the wrong decisions and I can't change my choices without letting everybody down. I can do the work…my grades are still good… but I feel so sad all the time, like I am missing out on what being a teenager is all about. I need some balance in my life but I have no idea how to get it. I can't tell my parents I'm at breaking point… they would be so, so disappointed and I couldn't stand that.  I'm trapped, and I can't see a way out.

Gina's name has been changed to protect her privacy.

Picture posed by model Molly, photographed by Emma Tunbridge.

Cathy says:
Gina's words show that beneath the surface, even the most successful life can look very different indeed. Is Gina right to say she is trapped and has no way out? What would YOU do in her situation? COMMENT BELOW to have your say...


  1. That's what I feel like at my school sometimes. I get good grades and it's a very good school. But whenever teachers ask me if I enjoy coming to school I always hesitate. I think I would enjoy my school if nearly everyone in my year group just left, the people who bitch about me behind my back and pretend that I'm something horrible that can't hear them like a little worm. It would also be nice if I weren't pressured by school into being a lawyer or doctor or other smart-person profession when it's very obvious that I want to be a songwriter. Sometimes I think I would be better off at the arts school down the road, but that place is like an extermination camp for intelligence.

  2. Stay strong xoxo
    Talk to someone maybe childline kids helpline or you local counsellor. Your friends or even your parents. Hope this was helpful

  3. Hey,Gina! I sometimes used to feel like that because my parents wanted me to a grammar school test! I passed but I remembered what about all those friends that I am going to miss and freedom! as you might already know grammar school are quite like private school where you can get really packed up with work.My advice to you is why not ask your parents for a day off and meet up with some of your friends from your old school. Have a nice relaxing day e.g. go to the movies or have a little party of your own or just have a little spa relaxing day

  4. hey why don't you ask your parents for a day or two off? you could then hang out with some of your old mates and have a nice relaxing day e.g. have your own mini spa day

  5. People who are intelligent like you, Gina, often suffer from anxiety and depression. I would know: I've always been one of the top in my class, and I'm pretty sure I have clinical anxiety. It's perfectly normal, I would recommend talking to someone, whether it be a teacher, counselor, friend... And your parents will understand! Maybe they've forgotten what its like to be a teenager... Find a new hobby maybe, have a reunion with old friends! And most importantly, cut yourself some slack! School will end eventually, and you may even miss it! Enjoy it while you can! Méabh

  6. Maybe u r starting to become upset because of the strain and pressure of being very intelligent. U may have not thought about it yet, but sometimes it's the mental pressures that get the better of us. Why not have a day to urself! Pamper urself, watch ur fave film, go shopping, go to the cinema, hang around with friends or take a day off school sometimes these little things in life make us a bit more cheerful:). Hamdi:)xxx

  7. I am the same. I have just started secondary and I feel like I am on a tightrope. If I fall and lose my good grades, I will disappoint everyone: my parents, my old teachers, my new teachers, my friends and, well, myself. It's a sticky situation, but hearing that you feel the same has helped me. Thanks.



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