We’ve all been there: that 2:00 am rush when you’re up to your ears in work and the deadline for that big paper is quickly approaching. The daily rhythm of work has gotten to you, and it suddenly hits you: Why am I doing this? You put all this energy into learning the material, the test comes, you regurgitate information, and then start over. The next grueling assignment pops up, and it happens again and again and again. Your parents don’t understand your high-stress environment, and sometimes you don’t even get it.
The question here is, “Why?” Why go through pushing through eight hours of school and then grind through six hours of homework? You know synthetic division isn’t a life skill you’ll need unless you want to become a math teacher. The answer is in the allure of college, the feeling of exhilaration as you master a concept, and the pressure put on you by yourself and your parents to do your best and rise to the occasion. But when you hit your breaking point, the question is no longer, “Can I?”; it’s, “Will I?” When the time comes, re-evaluating your mental health, workload, and viewpoint toward school are all necessary to overcome your problems and work toward becoming the best student you can be.
Your mental health and schoolwork
A student’s mental health is a merry-go-round of emotions, as the ups and downs throughout an academic quarter can make it difficult to understand where you stand. The quick fix for this is to take a day off, relax, and recharge your batteries by spending times with friends and family, taking a walk on the beach, or doing some meditative yoga. The only problem with this is the fear of lingering too long in the a land of procrastination and the buildup of anxiety pushed aside by blissful oblivion. Cheat days are fun and sometimes necessary, but they’re like a patch for a deflating tire—useful in the short term but bound to wear out their effectiveness before the end of the journey. Where mental health is concerned, it’s always best to talk to a counselor or trusted adult if feelings of anxiety or depression arise from an immense workload.
The weight of your workload
The workload of a class (or multiple classes) can be determined by a variety of factors, and each student is different when it comes to the amount of and type of work they can handle. While challenging yourself is a worthy goal, a class shouldn’t be taken purely for the additional GPA points or the prestige of taking that class. While it can be tempting to take classes your friends are taking or ones that’ll look good on college applications, taking classes that you can handle should always come first. Also try taking classes that highlight your interests; you’ll thrive in any environment and with any type of instructor if you’re doing something you find valuable and important in furthering your education. Taking too many AP and honors classes can put a strain on your schedule, so it’s best to prioritize these classes and plan out the amount of time you can dedicate to each subject—then make an educated decision based off that preliminary assessment. If you encounter obstacles, the best solution is to talk to your teacher about the class and the material you don’t understand so you don’t have to play catch-up later on.
Finding your key motivation
A school is much more than a place you pass through every day; it’s a place where you should feel safe and happy in the pursuit of knowledge. Sadly, the reality is much drearier, as they are usually just educational facilities that demand a lot out of you. High school can be competitive and tiring, and everyone eventually hits a point when they throw up their hands and say they’ve had enough. At this point, take a deep breath. Remember: It’s not the end of the world, and there are many other students struggling with the same unfounded feelings of inadequacy and burnout. When your heart has stopped racing and the tears are over, try to remember why you put yourself through this. There are a variety of reasons, such as the pursuit of better grades, admission to a better college, or self-validation. But the most important answer to why you put the effort into learning has to come from you. When you find this key piece of motivation, hold on to it.
When you’re at your worst, tired and fighting through the exhaustion, remember your motivation. High school can feel like an uphill battle, but you’ll make it through if you take the time to evaluate your choices and attempt to find a balance in the whirlwind of activity around you.
For more advice to help you make it through the rest of the school year, check out our Majors and Academics section.