Throwback piece! I wrote this my first week of Junior year.
Last week was my first week of junior year. There was an observation I made. EVERY teacher, admin, principal, and even the doctor, said something along these lines:
“So you’re a junior now! The toughest year. It can get stressful…”
By Friday, I had heard this so many times I was absolutely sick of hearing it. In first period that day, my teacher made all the juniors stand up.
“I’m worried for you guys. Junior year is when students tend to burn out. I need to take care of you guys. Remember that this year is simply about surviving.”
Though this was said with kindness, I must disagree. If someone is trying to “survive” something, they are usually looking to the future and wishing they were there. By trying to survive junior year, we are not living in the present and are not making an effort to enjoy times, take in our surroundings, and live our youth with passion to the fullest. Hey – I’m only 16, but really – we gotta enjoy our youth cause it ain’t gonna last forever.
I made the decision that I would not “survive” junior year.
A fellow junior may ask, “UMM, hey miss insightful-smartypants, how on earth am I supposed to do that when I’m taking all these AP/honors classes, doing sports, and studying for SAT’s, all while trying to maintain somewhat of a social life? And don’t even get me started on sleep and family time.”
My belief is that mindset is one of the ways to deal with this issue. And to be honest, staff does not help with this at all. They make you “brace for impact” like a snowboarder overshooting a 60 foot ramp. They reinforce the idea that not only is it perfectly normal to be stressed, but as a junior, you are supposed to be. So naturally, students stress. Stress has become a status symbol. “look how hard I’m working. I had to pull an all-nighter. What were you doing with your life last night? Sleeping?” I overhear complaint after complaint about classes between other juniors. I hear juniors taunting freshmen and sophomores about their so called work load.
I made the conscious decision not to stress out. I tried to enjoy everything, even if I had to “fake it till I make it”. Even now, as I sit and read my APUSH textbook, I think to myself, “mmm, love me some ‘merican revolution. I love history. It’s just as fun as snowboarding.” After a while, it works. I also did it with chemistry and running last year.
I’m a huge believer in prioritizing fun, living with passion and purpose, seeing the future as bright, taking a chill pill, and having faith and confidence to feel that you have studied enough by 11 pm. I believe in learning for the sake of learning, not the grade to get into fancy-pants university. I believe that to some degree, stress is a choice.
I’m not going to “survive” junior year. Life is more than studies. Confidence is essential. Faith is required. Enjoy this season of life; don’t dread its looming presence. Realize that nowhere in the school rules does it say that all juniors are required to be a wreck of all-nighters and stress. Remember, us 16 and 17 year olds are at the peak of our youth! From what I’ve heard, you can’t go back in time!
Finally, one thing I have found useful is to find at least one thing you love. For me, it is snowboarding and cooking. Have an “outlet” where you can recharge (Not telling you to stick your finger in the electrical outlet BTW). For some, finding this may take time, but I believe that everyone has one. Once you have found it, prioritize it!
For example, since finals are in December, a very snowy month, I promised myself I would go snowboarding the weekend before finals every year since freshman year. And I’ve kept it. I didn’t not study, I just shifted my priorities and planned ahead a little. For some strange reason, my final grades are much higher than I expect! I honestly think it is the snowboarding, because when I’m snowboarding, I can just let go and be free and take in all my surroundings. It’s my passion and I love doing it. Having had a weekend full of that, I walk into my finals the next day and have a positive attitude and a clear mind free from anxiety and stress.
So I’m a junior, eh? 11th grade? BRING IT ON!