Fear of failure changes us. Sometimes we don’t sleep; sometimes we don’t eat. Sometimes we slack off. We claim we will start another time. But every waking moment we are not doing something conventionally productive — the moment we sacrifice study for rest, for recreation, for pleasure — we feel guilty. We are perfectionists. We are procrastinators. We are anxious and deeply afraid of the unknown. We are afraid for our futures, afraid of our own expectations and afraid of letting down others’ expectations.

Every time we look to our peers, to another generation, all we can hear is: “ What will you do when you leave school?” And some of us know — that is great. Most of us smile and–rather than say, “Don’t know,”–we lie through our teeth, because we are afraid to be looked down upon. Expected to decide upon our lives in high school. We humour them with an answer.

Exam season is upon us, and from left and right, we have heard it all. The importance of achieving. The significance of study. The essence of planning. The decisiveness of exam results. The Brobdingnagian amount of money our caregivers spend. The sound of time soaring by. And they’re right, usually, it’s true. But wherever we turn, it’s all the same type of scare tactic. Pressure, culminating in one giant cesspool of the exam concoction. From all corners under our beds, the exams are out to get us. We get it.

Studying and achieving is indeed important. But sometimes all we need is a break in which we don’t feel like time is running out. Here is some slight validation for you to go on your way.

There are currently some 7 billion people on our planet. However, there have been an estimated 106 billion people who have lived over Earth’s history. The current entire human population could actually fit into the state of Texas. Texas is 696,241 km². NZ could fit into Texas 2.6 times.

764 Earths would fit inside Saturn.

More than 1,000 Earths would fit inside Jupiter.

1,000,000 (1 million) Earths would fit into the Sun.

All of the sudden, Earth starts looking small. The total mass of the solar system is about 333,345.997 Earth masses.

This means that Earth makes up about 0.0003% of the total mass of our solar system.

For comparison, Earth makes up about 0.2% of the total mass of the planets.

Our solar system orbits the Galactic Centre at an average distance of 28,000 light-years. One orbital period (one galactic year) is equal to about 250 million years.

We have completed about 15 orbits since life started on Earth.

The Milky Way is thought to have some 300 billion stars. The largest known galaxy, IC 1101, has over 100 trillion stars. The Local Group is about 10 million light-years across.

The Local Group is our local galaxy cluster comprising of at least 47 galaxies including our own. The Andromeda galaxy is the largest member of the Local Group followed by the Milky Way. Andromeda is approaching us at 110 kilometres per second; it will collide with us in 4 billion years.

The Virgo Supercluster is 110 million light-years across. It contains about 100 galaxy clusters (clusters like our own Local Group). At about 1.37 billion light-years across, this Supercluster complex spans a tenth of the observable universe. It one of the largest structures known in the universe.

The ‘observable’ universe spans some 28 billion light-years (93 billion light-years in diameter, as it is still expanding).

It is home to about 10-billion superclusters (like the Virgo Supercluster).

What percentage of the universe does the earth take up? The radius of the ‘observable’ universe is 45.7 billion light years, whereas earth only has a radius of 6.371 kilometres. Earth takes up 3×10-60, or 0.0000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000003 % of the observable universe.

It did not take 4.1 billion years of human evolution from our ancestor, the single-celled organism, for humanity to despair over test scores on an A4 sheet of paper.

We are currently living in the single most peaceful period in the entirety of human history.

It’s ok to not know the function of a convoluted kidney tubule. Exam scores are, incredulously, not the centre of the universe. Failure is not the end of the universe.

Exams are honestly insignificant compared to everything and anything. Life itself is somewhat arbitrary and meaningless. We give it meaning with our actions, and these have nothing, nothing at all to do with our exam results.

Good day, all. 

This post was written by a member of the Youth Health Council.
In future, we welcome more collaborations with the Council and other student clubs or organizations.

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