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Senior Stress

Submitted By: K. K.

You’ve spent years in school. When it’s time for graduation, and you’re getting ready to go off to some college that your parents approved of, you have to stop and think, “Are you really prepared for anything?” Because, let’s be honest, ask me any one thing I remember from science in the four years of high school and all I can tell you is that, “the mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell!” I can assure you though, there is nothing powering these [my] cells.

The final stretch of the final semester that counts before college applications spell doom [read: junior year, second semester], every mistake you’ve made in the past few years tends to hit you harder. You know there’s no way to go back and fix any of it, but you’re stuck at an impasse; waiting for a failure in at least one of several AP exams and finals you still have to take; and looking back and wishing you’d done a lot more. Because now anything you’ve done doesn’t seem to be enough for any college you apply to. “Colleges look at you, not your SAT scores”? Yes, and my GPA defines my soul.

Current seniors are receiving their final letters of acceptance [or rejection] and the augmenting pain continues to kill you slowly. “Oh wow _____ got into Stanford!?” “The UC’s are such BS this year; one kid didn’t get into UCLA or SD, but he’s going to Berk for Comp Sci now.” “Yea, did you hear _____ got into Harvard? I mean, of course he did, he’s the president of 1,014,389 clubs and he’s a three-time international champion for [insert sport here].” And you sink lower into your seat.

The stress keeps mounting, and with the amount of multitasking necessary to keep up with the pressing deadlines, there’s no surprise that people end up cracking under the pressure. But are these the right concerns to worry about as a teenager? The stress works from both angles. After all, it is essentially a choice we make to live in the Bay Area and subject ourselves to such competition. And even if it wasn’t our choice to begin with, we end up comparing our achievements [or lack, thereof] to those we are up against to get into that dream school. Everyone else seems to be passing by with minimal effort: getting enough sleep, getting easy A’s, having a decent social life, some even having time for a relationship [?!]. While the rest of us end up praying that we fulfill the motto “A’s before baes,” in hopes of justifying any sort of non-academic incompetence.

In the rush of things, however, it suffices to say that we should probably take a step back and put student life into perspective. There’ll always be someone that seems to be doing better than you, but that’s also what we as individuals tend to focus on. There are those that have to struggle much harder than we may, in more ways than one. Granted, that doesn’t mean comparing yourself with those that are worse off is a good idea, even if it makes you feel better. When the going gets tough, just take a breath and realize that, you’re barely 18. There’s still so much farther to go, “and whether or not it’s clear to you, no doubt the world is unfolding as it should.”

About Timothy Lee

Timothy Lee is a senior at Monta Vista High School. He moved back to the States in 2012 after living in Beijing, China for two years, and currently lives in Cupertino, California. This cross-culture experience has enabled him to encounter a vast variety of environments in which part of his writings are based on. He is also currently an officer in HEARTS, a nonprofit organization, and a VP at Silicon Valley DECA. He also has a passion in web design, computer science, badminton, and writing.

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