Not Exactly The Soundest Counsel

, , , , , , | Learning | June 27, 2020

It was just before our final exams in school. In my country, you appear for these exams under a certain state or national “Board,” and these marks determine if you clear cutoff for colleges. The higher your marks, the higher your chances of getting into a good college, unless you have to sit for competitive exams.

Our stress was through the roof, all students studying harder than ever to either clear the Board exams or competitive exams because these would determine what our lives would be like. 

It was during this time that I had a severe heartbreak. A guy I used to like rejected me, then went on to have a friends-with-benefits relation with his previous crush who had rejected him. Worse even, this girl was one of my best friends; she had pestered me to share my sadness with her secretly, only to go and spill them all to my crush. They didn’t get into a relationship, which made it worse for me.

Meanwhile, I had to study for my exams and manage school events and ECAs, as I was the Head Girl and the sole one in my position.

Things got worse when my subordinate, the Deputy Head, left his post following some personal reasons. My crush — who was also a great friend until all this — made fun of my appearance and I got extremely lonely. The Friend-With-Benefits even went on to have some action (nonsexual) right in front of me. 

Basically, I was miserable.

So, I went to my school counselor, who also holds an important position in the school authority. We had worked together in organising many events. She also taught us Psychology. She had done many shrewd and outright b**** things, but she was the only one I could share my concerns with.

I wanted to tell you that I’ve been feeling very lonely lately,” I explained. “I’m sitting among my friends, yet I don’t feel like I belong there.”

Mind you, all the people I sat with are great friends even now.

“Now, now, you don’t come to school to talk to friends, do you?” the counselor asked.

“I mean, they are a very important part of my school experience,” I said. “I do look forward to their presence.”

“You are making a mistake,” she insisted. “You come to school to meet your friends. Recently your grades have gone down. You are doing poorly.”

There wasn’t any way she could tell that. We hardly had any tests before we went on study leaves.

“If you want good marks, you have to work hard,” she continued.

Then, she uttered the worst set of words she could come up with.

“If you want to score above 95%, get rid of your friends.”

I was horrified. These friends meant life to me. We did almost everything together, even walking back home together. We even got so late that at first our parents worried. But then, all the parents knew and even chatted amongst each other while waiting for us.

Apart from these friends, I had almost no one. I was already having trouble with two friends thanks to crushes gone wrong. Now, the counselor wanted me to get rid of all of them. I wanted to score well, but not at the cost of my mental health.

Needless to say, I ignored her advice. I could settle for a mere 80% but not lose my mental peace. Later, it turned out that I had anxiety and depressive phases, and my friends actually helped me through it.

Fast forward to the very exciting and nervous result day. I drew up my result, and it turned out, I topped my class, scoring more than 95%, actually, with full marks in two subjects — all this without losing even one friend. By then, I had already made up with my ex-crush and his fling and was seeing another guy. 

We went to collect our results and all the teachers congratulated me. The counselor came up, ignored me for some time, and then looked at me.

“I expected you to do better,” she said before walking off.

We went rolling on the ground hearing what she’d said.

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