If you asked a younger version of me “how do you see yourself as a teenager?” the answer would have been extremely cliché. Younger me envisioned a carefree individual who had tons of friends, present me does not. Younger me thought I would have tons of free time to hangout and do fun and amazing things, present me does not. Younger me was quite the optimist. Present me, however, is not.
High school has its highs and its lows, however both are overshadowed by the immense amount of stress and schoolwork that I receive each and every day. Part of this is my fault. I chose to take the hard route and take the honors and the APs and somehow manage to balance them all on top of the rest of my life. At the time this seemed the most logical and rewarding journey, however it quickly began to take its toll.
School began to consume my life, and yet for the beginning half of high school I was completely fine with this. It wasn’t until I lost most of my friends, most of my hope, and part of my sanity that I realized I did not want my life to be consumed with nothing but stress and extracurriculars that I did not enjoy. By junior year I was ready for a change.
This is the part where it gets much more happy, trust me.
While junior year brought a new sense of stress it also brought a new opportunity for me to mostly start over. I found clubs and activities that I was genuinely interested in and enjoyed. Even better, I found an amazing group of friends that I am so lucky to have each and every day. I began to put myself first and explore the things I was actually interested in, not just what I was told to be interested in.
Don’t get me wrong, there was still so much stress and even more school, but my burdens felt lessened by both the support from my friends and family and the happiness that I had begun to find for myself.
As the end of my senior year approaches and the next chapter of my life is set to begin, I worry that I began too late. Began to genuinely enjoy myself and pursue what I wanted to, that is. I wish there had been someone at the very beginning to tell me that it’s okay to take steps back and there’s no shame in admitting when something is too much. For every person reading this right now, I hope I am that person to you that I wish I had had for me.
Don’t be afraid. I promise, it’s not all as bad as it seems.
As you continue through high school, and just life in general, remember that life is what you make of it and that you’re not defined by what you’ve accomplished but rather by what you’ve experienced and who you are as a person. Know what’s best for you and recognize when it’s time to move on or make a change.