by Sophie Horvath '20
Junior year has always carried the legend of being the hardest and most stressful year of them all. As it approached, I felt a growing sense of dread as I faced what was sure to be the most horrific year of my life so far. I vowed to take care of myself in the year to come by not procrastinating, getting all my assignments done as soon as possible, and leaving myself lots of time for fun and sleep. This resolution, of course, is easier said than done. Assignments started rolling in and commitments left even less time for work. Almost immediately, I fell into bad habits; I procrastinated and didn’t do what I knew to be my best on my homework. The perfect, productive ideal I had set for myself was something I had always told myself was possible if I applied myself enough. What I needed to understand, as I do now, is that absolute perfection is not possible, and the constant effort to attain it is miserable. Repeatedly striving for something simply not human, only to be irritated and disappointed when it didn’t work out, was an unhealthy cycle that was the exact opposite of the self-care I had promised myself.
And I know I’m not alone. We all want to do well and be successful in all of our work and commitments, athletic, academic, artistic or otherwise. We’re expected to be well-rounded, to have good grades, yet also be social, get exercise, sleep enough, and be interested in fields outside of school. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and even a little lost, and that’s okay. A lot is asked of us, and it’s hard.
I decided to take a step back and think about how to be happy in our high-pressure, hectic world. Because to what end is all of this? The stress, the crazy pressure, the comparison to other people on completely different paths? What bright future lies ahead that justifies us not properly living our youth because we tell ourselves that a good college or prestigious job is worth it?
I’m hesitant to buy into the narrative that it all gets easier after high school because my hypothesis is this: the pressure never ends. We apply ourselves in high school to get into a respectable university only to find ourselves with more work and under more pressure. We graduate, enter the workforce, become independent and have to take care of ourselves and work at getting promoted. We start families and watch as our children work harder than we had to as they compete against more people for the same number of spots and opportunities. Sure, this path is conventional and what society has told us we should work towards, but will living this cycle of expectation and strain fulfill us? Are we really getting the most out of life by pushing ourselves towards what we’re told will make us happy, what we’re told success should look like?
This is my advice to you: go for a walk, laugh with your friends, read the classics, be with who makes you happy, do absolutely nothing but sit on the grass, paint something beautiful, anything you choose, as long as you live. Existence itself is one-in-billions, and I don’t intend to waste mine in a constant cycle of self-deprivation and stress. I want to live the Ferris Bueller way, and make my life vibrant and full of joy.
So please, to my fellow juniors and anyone who is stressed to the max, give yourself a break. Do not be afraid to work hard, but don’t hesitate to take the pressure off and take care of yourself. Next time you’re faced with an insurmountable amount of work, take a page out of the Bueller handbook, say carpe diem, and find a way to make something good out of the day. Because the minute you accept your beautiful self and enjoy the world around you, you are doing yourself and the life you have been given justice.