High School- The Most Important Years of Your Life or the Most Stressful? by Linda Contreras
Four years are said to determine your entire life, four years are said to either make you or break you depending on how you spend them. That's high school for you- four years of constantly hearing this, and each year it just gets pushed into your head even more.
Freshman year was a breeze for me personally. I had easy classes, a good friend group, and it seemed so much easier than everyone made it seem to be. "They're just exaggerating," I thought to myself, "High school is so easy!" I should've knocked on wood because sophomore year came and kicked me straight to the ground. I was taking 7 classes, 2 of them being AP courses. My previously "free schedule" turned into a whole lot of "sorry, can't hang out today!" Going into sophomore year I wish I had someone to tell me all the things I was doing wrong, doing right, literally any tip at all. There are so many things I wish I knew that came along with taking AP courses and getting more involved, and now as a junior, I'm here to share that, to hopefully guide someone who was as lost as me.
You are you and no one else.
School is hands down the most important thing to me, I strive to be the best student I can be and I grew up in an environment that taught me that. Growing up I had an older sister and I saw her as my biggest inspiration and motivation. She graduated her high school as Valedictorian, meaning she was number 1 of her whole senior class, got accepted into almost every university she applied to with a full ride to some of them, graduated from UCLA, and now works at the Capitol in D.C. Pretty cool, huh? Although I was astonished by everything she accomplished, I constantly felt as if I wasn't good enough and that I would never amount to anything she did. Anything that happened at school I would compare to her, whether it be grades or a title I got, I would compare myself.
I engraved an idea of "never enough" into my head. I was Top 20 Sophomore year with a 4.2 GPA and even though now I realize how good that was, at the moment all I could think is, "Why couldn't I be better?" It's so important to know that you are you and no one else. Be proud of your accomplishments no matter how big or how small. The only person you need to focus on is yourself.
Seek help when you need it.
During the beginning of Sophomore year, I struggled with an eating disorder that diminished my self worth and instead of seeking help I dealt with it and let it grow. I was underweight, sick, weak, tired, and moody. Any negative emotion you can imagine, I felt. It was extremely harsh and I isolated myself from those who loved me since I found it so hard to even do anything. Social media was my worst enemy. Every time I would scroll through Instagram, Twitter, or Tumblr I would see these images of girls that looked insanely better than me. I glorified photoshopped, airbrushed, fake images and it just contributed to the self hate built inside of me.
It wasn't until I sought help that I realized how low I'd gotten. Day by day I got healthier, my concentration in school increased, my grades improved, I was so much happier. I cannot stress the importance of seeking help because even though it feels like no one cares or like you're just a problem- believe me, someone cares. And when you seek that help, you acquire all these amazing rewards without even realizing it.
Sounds silly, huh? But seriously, sleep! You have no idea how important sleep is for your body like people actually die from sleep deprivation. I had stacks of homework, assignments, projects, and work to do so I thought staying up late with a cup of coffee, two at most, would be good to get my things done. WRONG! Instead, I developed a habit of staying up late and coffee consumption. I would go days without sleeping to do work and my cup of coffee turned into 6 during the night because I thought I had to do that. Then, during the school day, I would down 5-Hour Energy drinks like as if they were water to stay awake. The same pattern would repeat itself every single day, the bags under my eyes were seriously deeper than the Pacific Ocean and darker than the dead of night. This habit turned into a terrible health concern since so much caffeine was affecting my heart and such a sleep deprivation contributed to a very moody Linda. One day my 5th period teacher literally told me to go to the back of the classroom and take a nap since my eyes were red from crying since I was so tired.
No matter how much homework or work you have to do, sleep! Without sleep you won't be able to function, like, at all. Manage your time and prioritize the things you have to get done and create good habits for yourself.
You've got this.
All in all, high school is a stressful experience, one where you find out who you are, one where you find your limits, one where you find your passions, and one that is honestly one of the best. Although grades are extremely important, remember to have fun and even combine the two. Go have study parties at your nearest coffee shop, call your friends while doing homework, studying can actually be fun and sometimes even competitive. Despite what anyone tells you, these 4 years are indeed a small portion of your life but they do make you the person you are, so spend them wisely and be the best you can be.