School, Stress, and Not So Much Sleep

credits to David A Ellis on Flickr
credits to David A Ellis on Flickr
A community is more than just the collection of people within one’s vicinity. A community is made up of people who support you, who offer advice and encouragement in your every endeavor, even the ones that seem far-fetched or downright insane. For me, that sense of community is found at Fountain Valley High School. I’m lucky enough to attend a school that is home to a number of diverse interests and activities – from field hockey to marching band – yet still has a feeling of unity among students and staff alike. But despite how much I enjoy my school’s community, there are things I wish I could change.
Though it might not seem noticeable from a quick stroll through the halls, there is an immense amount of academic pressure looming over us as students. It becomes increasingly apparent as AP season nears and teachers increase both the density of content and workload assigned. On numerous occasions, a friend will complain to me about her lack of sleep while another will stress about a looming deadline. During lunch, we all swarm to our phones the moment we hear the SAT scores have been released, and we’ll huddle together in groups studying for a test next period. Often times, I’ll wonder to myself why we find this necessary, why we feel the need to panic and cram for an exam, why doing homework at five in the morning has become second nature. The obvious answer occurs to me. We’re all worried about getting into college because we’ve been taught from an early age that higher education is the only path to a bright future. But there’s something more than that. I think a lot of the time my peers and I feel like we’re defined by the letters on our report card, that we’re only as good as our GPA allows us to be. And this mentality is the thing I wish I could change.
If I was less shy and knew more people, I would let everyone know that they are creative, wonderful, significant human beings. I would tell them to stop worrying so much about the future because they are capable of amazing things right now. I would look them in the eye and tell them that they matter. And I know that I probably can’t divulge this information to strangers I see during passing period, but I want them to remember that these four years don’t define the rest of our lives. There’s really no easy solution to changing the way that we think, the way our brains are wired as students placed in an education system built on competition. But the best thing we can do is support each other. Study together the day before a test and go out for frozen yogurt the weekend after. The most important thing we can do as individuals is support someone else. Because that is the foundation of a community.

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