| 12.4°C Dublin

"There is pressure to be perfect"

Kayleigh Nolan, 16, a student at Coláiste Pobail Osraí in Kilkenny, says there is a lot of pressure on teenagers - especially girls - not only to do well in exams, but to conform to a flawless image of beauty.

 "The Junior Cert taught me a lot about handling pressure, as I am quite anxious and prone to panic attacks. For my JC exams however, I didn't have any anxiety, which shocked myself and my parents. So I now know that I can handle exam pressure.  "At the start of my JC year, I wasn't particularly driven, but my mum pushed me to study. I wanted to get good results for her. I want to give something back to her, even if it is just a piece of paper with letters on it.  "I'm quite sporty, which makes me naturally competitive. I always want to be better than my last performance. But there is so much competition for uni places and good jobs because there are so many people chasing the same thing. I hope that in five years, I'll be in college working towards getting a stable, well-paid job, so I can travel and see the world.

"There is a lot of pressure on teenagers - especially girls - to be slim, wear make-up and have perfect hair. I have red hair and get ridiculed for it because people my age class red hair as an abnormality, while older people think it is lovely. So the worst thing is not being able to walk through town without hearing people laugh and wondering if it's at you or not.

"With regards to my future, I don't know what I want to do yet. It's all so confusing and scary. So my biggest worry is the unknown."

Irish Independent