BlogWellbeingThe 3 Confidence Killers to Avoid During High School

The 3 Confidence Killers to Avoid During High School

High school is a pretty big part of your life — you grow up with your friends around you and take on a whole range of subjects and extracurricular activities. However, high school is not without obstacles, and a big threat are confidence killers.

You physically cannot see it coming and it can be incredibly hard to pick yourself up again after losing some confidence.

Today we’re having a look at the three big confidence killers that you want to avoid during high school! And if you do happen to find that these confidence killers have gotten to you, we’ve talked to previous HSC student, Mahanoor, to hear her perspective on overcoming low confidence.

Let’s find out what these confidence killers are!

#1: Misunderstanding Your Ranks
#2: Letting Mistakes Knock You Down
#3: Setting Unrealistic Expectations

Confidence Killer #1: Misunderstanding your ranks

Depending on your school, you may or may not receive your ranks, however most students will receive ranks in Years 11 and 12. While it can be really interesting to see how you sit against your grade, and can often be quite exciting if you make it into the top 10, it can also be a massive confidence killer. 

Ranks are a great estimate of where you’re sitting at in your cohort, and can be really encouraging at times. However, it’s important to know that ranks aren’t always the best measure of performance!

Often, if numerous students get the same marks there will be equal ranks. So even if you get a really good mark, your rank might appear low due to numerous students achieving the same mark. 

“With the HSC it’s all about teamwork, but when it comes to ranks and marks there’s this privacy and underlying competition which is detrimental to students because you don’t know how everyone else is doing… So when you see your rank you automatically think you don’t have the same capability as others.” — Mahanoor Fatima

Ranks Aren’t Always the Best Way to Measure Performance

Ranks can also be misleading when you’re comparing your position in different subjects depending on the cohort size. For instance, you might be ranked 5 which is considerably high, but in a subject with only 15 or 20 students you have a higher chance of getting a top 5 place.

Contrastingly, receiving a top 10 mark in a subject with 150 students is much harder! So you can see how ranks aren’t the only way of measuring performance.

Confidence Killers - Quote

Hopefully this gives you a better understanding of ranks and how you can perceive them. Sure a bad mark will pull your rank down, but that also means a good mark will pull your rank back up!

Confidence Killer #2: Letting mistakes knock you down

Making mistakes is an integral part of learning, and we’ve all heard, “Learn from your mistakes.” Yet, it’s still so frustrating when you get something wrong, or even worse, when you make a mistake in an exam or assignment. 

Getting things wrong is often what triggers that feeling of wanting to give up, and it becomes mentally challenging to try and lift yourself out of that mindset. Think about a game of tennis, or any competitive sport for that matter.

Think about how you feel as a viewer, and how the player feels after making one wrong move; stepping over the line, missing the shot or hitting the net. You see the player’s confidence drop as each point gets handed to the opponent.

The most riveting part of a match however, is when that player makes an insane comeback; hits the ball in all the right spots, gets two aces in a row — it’s such an exciting and thrilling moment!

So what is it that triggered the comeback? 

It’s a change in mindset. An instant switch of the mind where all feelings of giving up are swallowed by a surge of determination. It’s the mindset of overcoming mistakes, not letting them change your performance and continuing to work your hardest. 

Think about those final HSC exams. If you realise halfway through your essay you haven’t been answering the question properly, are you just going to put your pen down and leave the exam early? No way! You’re going to have another read of the question and try to work your response back into the right direction. 

Write down what your weaknesses are and make sure you actively work on that. If you’re struggling in writing, ask your teacher, seek advice, be open about what you want to work on. 


If you don’t address your weakness you can’t improve. One of my teachers would always say, ‘You can’t get dumber’, as in you won’t go backwards so just give it a shot! You can’t get any worse than where you are right now, you’ll only get better.” — Mahanoor Fatima

As soon as you let one mistake influence your confidence, each mistake after that is going to take an even bigger toll. So each time you make a mistake, learn from it, and keep on going. Don’t let mistakes knock you down! 

Confidence Killer #3: Setting unrealistic expectations

“Create goals that are feasible and will make you more confident in your abilities! Setting realistic expectations is about your perspective and focus.” — Mahanoor Fatima

While it is nice to imagine getting straight A’s in your report and having a 90 average across all your subjects, it’s important to be realistic. Setting yourself incredibly high standards is often an antidote for self-sabotage. 

Now that might sound a little harsh, but the main precaution you want to take is setting expectations that are achievable with a bit of hard work. That means setting your expectation a step or two higher than the level you are currently performing at. So rather than expecting yourself to get 100% when your current average is 70%, aim for 80% and work yourself up from there. 

“It’s important that you are truthful and honest to yourself. Acknowledge that you have weaknesses!” — Mahanoor Fatima

How should you go about setting your goals?

Not only are unrealistic expectations a threat to your confidence, but also your projection in work or study after high school. It’s a good idea to have a look at the bigger picture and think about what it is that you’re aiming for, whether it be a particular degree, job or university. 

“Establish how you want to see yourself in the future and use that to help you visualise the journey… Do your research, and make sure you know what you’re setting yourself up for! 


This is in no way dismissing your abilities, it’s just that certain pathways might not be for you and there are thousands of other opportunities out there. As one door closes another one opens!” — Mahanoor Fatima

You can learn more about setting realistic goals in our article here!

And that’s it!

Confidence Killers - mindmap

Ranks, mistakes and expectations. Three huge confidence killers with the potential to fuel motivation and improvement throughout your high school journey! 

Remember that mistakes happen, we miss our goals, and don’t always perform as well as we want. Nonetheless, you can turn any situation around with the right mindset and the ability to acknowledge a problem.

Keep an eye out for those misleading ranks, frustrating mistakes and unrealistic expectations before it gets to you! 

Learn about why confidence is key to acing the HSC here!

Plus, if you’re feeling the heat and need some motivation, here are 4 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Drop Out of High School

Nandini Dhir is a Content Writer at Art of Smart and is currently studying a Bachelor of Arts (majoring in Marketing) and a Bachelor of Advanced Studies (Media and Communications), as a Dalyell Scholar, at Sydney University. She enjoys covering local issues in her area and writing about current events in the media. Nandini has had one of her pieces published in an article with the Sydney Morning Herald. In her free time, Nandini loves doing calligraphy, ballet, and sewing, or is otherwise found coddling her cats.   


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