Keep calm and carry on

Desks and bedroom floors strewn with class notes? Teenager with the demeanour of an irritated Tyrannosaurus Rex? Yep. It’s exam time in high schools.

My daughter in Grade 11 has been studying for exams and putting in long hours creating her summatives. (Who was it that thought those were a good idea?) During a conversation earlier this week, a fellow student mentioned that Grade 9 friends on Facebook were stressed out about their first exams. “Pfff . . .” my daughter said. “Grade 9 exams are easy.”

I looked at my sleep-deprived daughter, stressing about her Grade 11 work. “You know,” I said, “in a few years you’ll look back and say Grade 11 exams were easy.”

I hoped that putting it in perspective might help her through it all. It didn’t seem to stick.

When we’re in the middle of stress, we can’t seem to project ourselves ahead to the time when it will all be behind us. Everyone has tackled projects or life challenges that seemed insurmountable. We have always survived, one way or another. Every time we take on a stressful challenge and succeed—or even fail—we are better equipped for what comes next.

For Christmas my husband gave me a mug that reads Keep calm and carry on. The slogan came from a World War II campaign intended to boost the morale of British civilians. It was never used. Somehow the British people “carried on” through bombings and rations and loss of life without this sage advice.

Life brings challenges.

We have two options: we can stress, fret, worry—and carry on, or we can keep calm and carry on. Either way, one day we will look back on the experience and pride ourselves for making it through. If we keep calm while we’re at it, we’ll make the stressful time a little easier.


About Arlene Somerton Smith

Writer, laughing thinker, miner of inspirational insights, sports fan, and community volunteer

Posted on January 28, 2011, in Inspiration and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. again, some very sage advice.

  2. I¡¯ll right away grab your rss feed as I can’t find your e-mail subscription link or newsletter service. Do you’ve any? Kindly let me know in order that I could subscribe. Thanks.

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