Column: Stress stifles simple satisfactions – Web Exclusive

Julia Halpin | Staff Writer

Welcome to Mason High School, home of the Comets–scratch that, more like home of the stressed out, college bound, overly-fatigued and caffeine-dependent students.

In the time I’ve spent as a junior here at MHS, I’ve noticed something; that a lot of kids walking these halls are completely and entirely exhausted, and for the most fleeting reasons.

It makes sense if you think about it. Really, what does anyone expect to happen to us when college is forced to the forefront of our minds, or when one B means not being accepted into our dream college? We dedicate websites like Naviance to figuring out if our GPA is “enough” to be accepted and pay people hundreds of dollars to hopefully get better scores on the ACT.

But when is the last time we enjoyed a day of school?

I admire those kids who take classes just for the heck of it– classes that they’re interested in, that they think will ‘broaden their horizons’, (however cliché that might be) rather than the kids who suffocate themselves in AP classes to become the doctor of their parents’ dreams. With those students and that kind of pressure, lack of sleep has become almost like a competition — who can stay up the longest and still function? 2:30? You win.

When is the last time we did something for fun? Seriously, when is the last time we stopped freaking out over every Honors English paper and instead went out to eat with our best friend, or watched our favorite show at the actual time it shows, not the Tivo’d version four days later? While high school is supposed to be the “best days of our lives” we’re stuck in the constant motion of making sure we are prepared to no end for our future. 16-year-olds shouldn’t need mental health days to recover from their workload, that’s for when we’re old, right?

How about doing something that will just make us happy, and nothing else? No one these days takes a moment to stop, breathe, read a book for fun, buy a cute new something or take a lazy afternoon nap. I’m not advocating ditching class or failing school by any means; never turning in a homework assignment and falling asleep in class is nowhere near the answer. Rather, I’m advocating the simple enjoyment of life that MHS students have allowed to leave them with the replacement of a couple good grades. I realize that high school has to have homework, tests, grades, etc., etc. Though I want to go to college, get a job, and “reach every goal” I’ve set for myself, I want to have fun along the way too.

Somewhere through the years the dynamic of high school has changed. Instead of focusing on making each student here a better person, we now focus on getting them to the next stage of academia. All of you guys out there — remember that we’re just teenagers. Making mistakes, forgetting homework assignments, getting Bs and driving too fast is just a part of who we are. There’s a reason they give us these years; let’s be happy while we’re here.