Agony Aunt Agatha #13



I’m having a major life crisis. I just had a major breakdown over CCA stuff and with A-Levels coming up, I feel like I’m drowning in commitments.

First thing that comes to mind: manage your time well. But then again, this is easier said than done. I could pretend that I have my whole life together and provide a solution to your problem but I would be lying to you and myself. With the many commitments that come with being a JC student, it is definitely a chore to juggle every single one of them.

I would advise you to take some time off studying to rest and plan out your next move, but with A levels looming closer and closer, it is likely that you will not see this as a feasible option. But still, remember that your health, be it mental, physical or emotional, is of utmost importance. Even if you feel the need to study and revise your work in every waking moment, take a breather from your books to relieve yourself of stress. Your breakdown is a sign indicating that studying too hard has taken its toll, and soldiering on ahead with your assignments and CCA commitments will just aggravate the situation. So put away your books, take a breather and rest up to rejuvenate yourself before diving back into your homework.

Know that you are doing enough and that you are doing the best that you can possibly do. In life, we cannot always control the outcome of events, but all that we can do is to prepare adequately for the event and allow fate to do its work. You might be thinking too much about the future, which stresses you out. Instead of being focused on what happened and what could happen, live in the now a little more and focus on what you can do right now. Have faith in yourself and in that you have the strength to get through this. After all, so far, you’ve survived every worst time period in your life. Hang in there, you’ve got this.       

My Economics tutor is not teaching my class effectively. Her explanations are not clear and she missed lessons twice this semester, causing my class to have multiple makeup tutorials. My tutor tends to ‘jump around’ when teaching, for example, she can be talking about the beef market for a moment and then talk about an entirely different market without giving us much context. She doesn’t answer questions or check if we understand our content. While other classes have Economics homework and many useful tips from their tutors, we have been doing group work assignments that are not very helpful and more time consuming than submitting individual case study questions or essays. As a result, my class is lagging behind the other classes. What should I do?

Firstly, you need to understand that all the EJC teachers put in a lot of effort into preparing for your tutorials. They take great joy and pride in their work. What your tutor is doing now seems to be some common teaching methods that have been used for some time. Know that all classes have different and unique learning styles and it is probably the first time that your tutor has encountered the special mixture of students in your class. It is only natural that she is not accustomed to your class’ learning style. Remember that her teaching strategies do not make her a bad teacher, as these strategies may have worked really well for another class, and are just not suitable for your class. I think it is important for you to show some sympathy and appreciation towards her for the challenges she has to face as a teacher, instead of offering only harsh criticism.    

That being said, I think you should feedback to your economics tutor that your class does not find her teaching methods useful. Communication is important and it would be best if you can tell her so that she is aware and can hopefully change her teaching style. You should also do the Quality of Teaching Survey that is in your EJC portal. You would have received emails reminding you to complete these surveys a while ago. This survey is the perfect platform for you to voice your opinions if direct confrontations with your tutor are not really your style. The school places great importance on student voice and will take the opinion of students by reviewing the Quality of Teaching Practices Survey.   

Since your economics tutor doesn’t answer questions or check if your class understands lecture content as much as you would like her to, you can consider booking consultation with other economics tutors, especially the ones who have covered lecture content. They will be happy to answer your questions. To prepare yourself for case study questions and essays, I suggest that you form a study group with your friends who are not taught by your tutor and ask them to share notes with you. Or alternatively, you can buy the Economics Ten Year Series (TYS) to practise Case Study Questions and essays. (p.s. EJC doesn’t order TYS for students).  

How do I balance hobbies, schoolwork, CCA and family life?

Life is so full of commitments, and sometimes you just feel like escaping from the sheer amount of things you have to do. You wake up at 6 in the morning, exerting yourself to stay awake and make productive use of the next 8 hours or so in school, bullying your brains relentlessly, up till the early hours in the morning, before collapsing; the cycle repeats.

On a weekend morning, you wake up late only because fatigue put you into a long sleep. Sounds really bad, right? But it usually doesn’t end here. There’s tuition after lunch, your mum has invited guests over and asks you to help her entertain them, or your baby cousin demands to play with you. All the while, you are likely engage in internal battles: rewinding your conversation with that friend, reimagining unfavourable situations, regretting your stupidity and pining for things even though you know the standards of others don’t apply to you.

So, how do you manage the amount of workload and social commitments that are cut out for you everyday?

First of all, don’t overthink. Most of our exhaustion comes from dreading the future, resenting the past and looking anywhere but the present. We rush to complete our schedule without appreciating the present. Mum’s going to pick you up for a family dinner after CCA? Finish up that conversation properly with your friend; let them know that they are worth your time first, before going off. Don’t think about the traffic jam that awaits you, or the tedium of having to go over the menu with a hundred choices. These may seem like small things, but these small irritations and preoccupations with the future compound into everyday grumpiness and even pessimism. So stay focused, cherish and relish the present. This exercise will help you regulate your emotions and priorities better, since you are not grappling with so many things at once. Know that you have done your best, let your worries go, and go along with life.

Secondly, learn the feeling of contentment. You can feel content when you reconcile your expectations with what is realistic. Very often, we covet what we don’t have, and that leaves us feeling unsatisfied with ourselves because we don’t achieve what we want. Perhaps you can look around you and feel grateful for those who are right beside you. This would reduce feelings of resentment and doubt, allowing you to cope with multiple tasks at once without feeling as stressed. You would also feel more at peace when you don’t want so many things.

Thirdly, don’t be so hard on yourself. We live in an age obsessed with perfection: perfect grades, outstanding resume, good social presentation skills, having a desirable appearance, etc. These external expectations are not as crucial as being at ease in your own skin, but they are still important. You can better cope with them if you feel good about yourself. It’s okay if you weren’t productive on a Saturday. Don’t bash yourself up over it. Identify significant distractions (such as overusing your mobile phone), try to remove it, and add in some healthy routines in your lifestyle, such as exercise and engaging in hobbies that can unleash your creativity. At the same time, reduce the workload you’ve cut out for yourself. You might feel more encouraged and end up being more productive than you’ve expected!

Vent your problems away via this link and Aunt Agony Agatha will come up with a solution for you! All submissions are anonymous!

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