Updated: Oct 25, 2020
As I embark on the most challenging year of high school, I seem to notice one simple trend. No one has their lives together. Now don't get me wrong, some people are husilin' and are on top of their s - h - *- t, but still why do the majority of juniors have a one-way ticket on the struggle bus. I have compiled the top five reasons your junior year is not falling apart for my fellow juniors who are just begging for some mid-semester inspo.
1. Everyone is looking at you
The dreaded year is among you, and everyone's eyes are on you to see how you react. This feeling of ___ can cause self-doubt, anxiety, and insecurity in previously doubtful, insecure, and anxious teenagers. The reality of the situation is that this is the year to make count, and there is a lot of pressure to make sure that you succeed. Let it be from your mom, dad, teachers, coaches, or your dog, they all want you to succeed in adulthood. This can be a lot of pressure, but remember to keep it cool because while there are a million eyes watching you move, that is 500,000 people rooting for your success.
2. Did classes just ramp up by x 10,000?
Yes, classes are harder. But guess what, you are older. You are just one hop skip and a jump into college or whatever post-high school path you choose to take. How do you deal with it? Again take a deep breath, calm down, and truly assess the situation you are in. Are your classes that hard, or are you hyping up the difficulty? Is this unit that challenging, or were you daydreaming in class? It is easy to mark up a challenge as difficult to shelf it in our minds as too complex; however, what is hard is challenging ourselves to rise to the occasion. If you have grown accustomed to easy A's an adjustment like this might prove to be difficult, but in most cases, you can surprise yourself with just how smart you are. Of course, this "hot take" is not one size fits all, so if you truly are not the problem maybe it is time to have a meaningful discussion(not just complaining) with someone you consider a reliable source of guidance to help you in your situation.
3. Have my coaches lost their minds?
This is a very common talking point for most athletes, but it is not limited to our ___. Director, bosses, captains, and many more have seemed to suddenly up the pressure on their juniors especially this year. On top of the raised standards for excellence, we are expected to blow away the competition during a crippling pandemic. This leaves many students pondering "Have they read the news lately?" or "Don't they know what is going on?". As I am assured you are already aware, they know and fully understand the epidemic, but this is why they push so hard. Now is the best time to blow away the competition, while they are resting, waiting, and relaxing during one of the world's greatest shutdowns. If you can work through the pain now, by the time we finally move past this, there will be no competition. Push hard and surprise yourself; it can only benefit your future.
4. Everyone is doing better than me
Many, many, many juniors are haunted by this thought throughout the entire year. This is yet another take a deep breath and calm down moments. YOU. ARE. UNIQUE. Therefore, there will be no accurate juxtaposition between your peers and yourself. While obviously, I have had all of these listed thoughts, this is definitely the most common. Look what Caroline won. Wow, did you see Emma's grade in precalculus? I can't believe that Danny got a 110 on that quiz? Contraction and competition are what drive human innovation, but the contraction of two, unlike things, can be dangerous, especially when it comes to unstable teenagers. DO.NOT.CONTRAST.YOURSELF. DAILY. Now do not misconstrue this message, competition is a beautiful thing; it manages to pull out an unparalleled drive for excellence for anyone who is willing to make the sacrifice, but when used too often it can be detrimental to your mental health and create a worse situation than prior. I want to remind you that you are capable of what you put your mind to, so comparing yourself is pointless when you can rise way above whatever standard you have imposed on yourself due to other's success.
5. Your largest critic: you
I saved this one for last because whether it relates to school, your social life, or your talents everyone seems to be able to relate to this. Why do humans do this? What is the point of bringing yourself down? Whether you are 10 or 100, the human race has an enthrallment with bettering themselves constantly. While this seems empty of any malicious connotation, this tendency quickly becomes toxic when we fail to meet the standards we set for ourselves. Everyone has their own standards whether ambitious or not and failure to meet these often results in self-deprecation and self-directed hate speech. Matched with the internal mockery of the illusion that everyone is keeping a close eye on us can be an extremely dangerous spiral to fall into. I challenge you to stop that spiral before it begins. "The beautiful thing about spirals is that you can interject at any moment and soon it will all fall apart" - John Biewan.
As I compiled this list on my one day off from sports, school, volunteering, and leadership, I realized that these are all things anchoring me down in the sea of work I have to complete. Over the next weeks, I am going to cut ties with this anchor. I want to do an update in about two weeks, and I challenge you to do the same. Lock these in the back of your brain, and see how different your perspective on school and stress starts to change. Remember you are not going through this alone there are millions of juniors crying over their pre calc homework just like you.