Advice / all

Singin’ Junior Year Blues

by share

Two AP classes, a job, founding two clubs, orchestra rehearsals, stage management, oh my! As the last Fourth of July excitement dwindles away, all students enter the uncomfortable void between Independence Day sales and back-to-school sales. This is the most stressful period for the procrastinator population, in particular. I am a part of this population. These few weeks are the only time I have left to finish the summer work that I was assigned almost two months ago, which includes reading five books, writing one book review, answering chapter review questions, and dissecting 40 literary elements of two books in a rather large packet. As I realize that my junior year, probably the most important academic year of high school, is closer than ever, naturally I’m stressing about everything related to junior year. I even stressed considerably about writing this story about junior year. I struggled to find my direction for this story, just like I’m struggling to find my direction for my next year.

My concerns are essentially focused on my glow up process, my time management abilities, my extensive extracurricular commitments, my rigorous schedule, and the incredible balancing act that I have to perform for the next 11 months. To some, junior year is easy because students should be more accustomed to how their school works and what is expected of them. But to others like me, despite how accustomed they are are to their school, sometimes it is difficult to establish and maintain a balance between social life, extracurricular activities, and academics, which is not a bad thing. This struggle is natural and a part of growing up. Even though this struggle is common, it is incredibly individualized, and no two people have the same exact strategy of figuring out their balancing acts.

For my balancing act, I have discovered a few strategies that will probably help me. I first have to let my underclassman self go. The version of me that procrastinated heavily and may have done some less-than-honorable things needs to go. The version that was easily distracted and was basically lazy, but still got the OK grades in the end, has to die. I need to shed my underclassman cocoon and grow into the scholarly butterfly I know I can be for the rest of my academic career.

I then need to find a strong support system that I know I can trust and that believes in me and my future. I have found that strong support system in the adult staff at VOX, in my supportive and critical family of educators, and in my group of cheerleaders from my community who have high hopes for me. Finding a sole mentor instead of a whole support system is OK too.

Understanding that I am already involved with so much, my main motivation for junior year is that I have to be involved with something I love. I’m founding a gospel choir and a producers’ association at school, while also being Editor-in-Chief at VOX, being in DeKalb Youth Symphony Orchestra, being in the orchestra at my school, being a producer in the media department, and being a stage manager. It sounds unmanageable, but I am so passionate about all these organizations that I refuse to quit any of them. Don’t stretch yourself too thin, but if you love what you’re doing and you have people supporting you in your endeavors, then go for it.

I had a teacher in eighth grade that preached to all his students that failure is not an option. This stuck with me. Making mistakes is natural and necessary, but the ability to learn from these mistakes is what makes the difference. If you believe failure is not an option, then this can motivate you to reach new heights that you never dreamed of. Don’t stress out and understand that it’s okay to mess up. It is completely OK to be less than perfect — do not let anyone tell you otherwise. But messing up and failing are completely different. Messing up is making a mistake and bouncing back from it. Failing is making a mistake and not trying again or learning from your mistake. Failure is not an option.

The final strategy I have is to always remember to breathe. I have recently taken up yoga, and I’m also becoming more spiritual. The ability to slow down, take a break and let everything rest for a minute is the most important ability ever. The idea of relaxation is not always associated with success, but relaxation is actually the key to success. If you go, go, go without rest, you’ll get burned out, and you won’t even remember your goal anymore. Breathing and relaxation is extremely important so you can ultimately achieve all the things there are to achieve.

Remember that everyone’s strategy for balancing their lives during junior year is different and individualized. Don’t feel like you have to all these things exactly as I described, but feel free to adopt some of the strategies that might work for you. So just take your time, find what works for you, and stick to it.

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