By Jolene Yee Xin Yi (23S03A) and Nor Akmal (23S03A, Peer Helper)
Cover image by Johnathan Lim (23S03M)
Your resident Aunties and Uncles are back with our Ask Aunt Agony and Uncle Upset column, this time as a collaboration between Raffles Press and Peer Helpers’ Programme (PHP)! Ever wanted to rant about that someone you just can’t stand? Overwhelmed with too many feelings? Submit your confessions to https://tinyurl.com/riadvice and we’ll give them our best shot. This column will be published at the end of every month.
“why is J2 so much worse than last year & will J2 be all about mugging for A-Levels”Fearful Fellow
Dear Fearful Fellow,
We understand that school life can be very exhausting — we’re confronted with test after test, and it doesn’t help that time is passing so quickly. Our two years here in Raffles ultimately lead up to the A-Levels, so it is inevitable that preparing for exams constitutes a large part of J2 life. Although the jump from J1 to J2 can be daunting, there are always ways to mitigate this issue.
What’s J2 life like?
“It was chaotic, stressful, and painful: there were so many tears, anxiety-inducing moments, and fear for the future… (It was) tiring too because I didn’t get enough sleep,” says Ainin Sofea (20A01D), an RI alumnus that graduated in 2020.
Although her description of J2 brims with pessimism, there’s solace in knowing that others are feeling the same way you do. J2 will be arduous and full of challenges, but everyone’s going through it with you.
Rui Yang (22S06H), a J2 student currently studying in Raffles, had this to say about J2:
“If I’m not wrong, the lectures are longer, so it’s harder to catch up. Also, I feel that the topics that are taught in J2 are much harder, especially Physics. There’s a LOT to memorise for Chemistry, since it’s mostly Organic Chemistry.”
Unfortunately for J2 students, it never rains but it pours. Apart from the increased academic rigour, for those still involved in VIAs, demanding CCAs (particularly sports CCAs which have their NSG early in the year) and leadership positions, their stress is compounded. Having to balance the increased academic difficulty with extracurricular commitments can be extremely exhausting, which is perhaps why you feel that J2 is so much harder than J1, especially after such a turbulent Semester 1.
Although both Rui Yang and Ainin agree that J2 is or has been a really difficult period in their life, both have persevered and Ainin believed that J2 had a saving grace.
“But J2 was fun too, because of friends.”Ainin
Never underestimate the power of friendships! The sense of mutual connection and companionship we share with our friends is vital to our socio-emotional well-being; likewise, the support and understanding we receive from them are key in helping us maintain a healthy coping mechanism in stressful times. Most importantly, we can trust that through thick and thin, they will always be there to lend a helping hand or a listening ear.
Having a robust support system certainly plays an instrumental role in helping you ride the storms of your J2 year, but it is not the only antidote to your grievances and anguish! We have four constructive suggestions that you can adopt to help you better cope with the demands of J2 life.
1. Tempering your expectations
Whilst ambition can boost your motivation to work harder, being too bent on achieving success has its downsides: for one, the magnitude of disappointment you feel when faced with setbacks is correlated with the expectations you impose on yourself. If you find yourself feeling discouraged over unmet expectations often, it could be helpful to evaluate your own targets. Try setting more realistic and attainable goals for yourself. For example, instead of aiming to complete watching all your biology lectures and subsequently completing the tutorial in a day, try breaking it down into more manageable, bite-sized chunks — perhaps watch the first two lecture videos and pick a few tutorial questions to attempt that day, then continue with the rest if you are still feeling motivated, or leave them for another day if you feel tired. Scaling down and dividing your goals into more doable ones will lighten your emotional load greatly.
2. Prioritising your health and well-being
Even as you burn the midnight oil, always remember to keep your emotional, social and mental well-being a priority. It is not worth it to sacrifice your mental health for the sake of academic success (trust us — the hangovers from all-nighters are not worth the four or five extra hours you get for studying). Try and strike a good balance between studying, friends and having fun. Don’t forsake your friendships by being too caught up with work as your friends can be your greatest supporters in such trying times! Also, try to normalise taking breaks, getting sufficient rest and putting your health (both physical and mental) above all else.
3. Looking inward rather than outward
Many people subconsciously compare themselves with others. Stop doing this! It only leads to feelings of inferiority — you undermine your own efforts if you think that other people are able to achieve “more” than you. On the flip side, it is equally unhelpful to view yourself as doing “better” than others — it only offers a temporary ego boost, unfortunately, for the feel-good factor diminishes after some time. Pegging one’s self-esteem to comparisons with others only leads to volatility — confidence that fluctuates with every test and oscillates between pride and inferiority. You should be your own benchmark: instead of striving to do better than others, work to hit new personal bests in whatever pursuits you choose.
4. Focusing on consistency (so important!)
We know that this is tough, but try to be as consistent as possible with work and revision. Watch lectures on schedule and complete your tutorials before coming into class. If this proves to be too difficult, communicate your concerns with your tutors and come to a compromise. If your tutors expect you to complete one whole tutorial but you were neck-deep in extracurricular activities the past week, negotiate with them to let you do only some questions instead. We are sure your tutors will understand where you are coming from.
Additionally, to fight off the urge to laze on your bed or scroll through Tiktok, make a checklist of all the work that you need to get done with deadlines. Reward yourself with a small break or a healthy snack every time you complete a piece of work. If you need any external help, there are also apps that can help you focus, like Forest, where you can earn credits (that are used to plant trees in real life) by not using your phone.
We will be honest: J2 life is not going to get any easier from here on out. In fact, it might only get harder approaching A-Levels. Nevertheless, we are on the last leg of the marathon that we have been running for more than 10 years now; freedom is just around the corner! Continue to persevere, but always remember to take care of yourself. Good luck!
Aunt Agony and Uncle Upset
If you need anyone to talk to about any issues you might be facing, do drop by My Rest Space near Marymount gate and talk to one of our peer helpers! We’re open on Tuesday from 2.30 – 4.30 p.m, Wednesday 11.00 a.m. – 3.00 p.m., Thursday 2.30 – 4.30 p.m. and Friday 1.30 – 4.30 p.m. If you would like to meet a peer helper on a regular basis, do email us a request at firstname.lastname@example.org or fill in our request form at our website https://rafflespeerhelpers.wordpress.com!