Class of 2021, welcome to one of the worst school years you will ever experience. The fabled junior year has been coined throughout whispers in school hallways as an all-around devastating, soul-breaking year. You’ve probably witnessed quite a few juniors crying and stressing out, so much so that you worry they’ve lost all other emotions and have just been left with tears on their math homework and sadness.
Now, having finished my junior year of high school, I have to say that all the rumors were true. It absolutely sucked. It kicked my butt in ways I didn’t know it could be kicked. But there were also times when it absolutely didn’t suck. I’ve come to realize that it’s the year of extremes; whether it’s sad or happy extremes is up to you, mostly. So from a once-suffering junior, here are some things I wish I would’ve known when trying to survive the nightmare. Let me go cry about my impending future and college applications before I do though.
A lot of times during the year, it seems like the stars will align just to mess everything up. No matter how many steps you take to make sure nothing goes wrong, something will go wrong. Murphy’s Law isn’t just some cheap movie trope, it’s real life.
After a day of astrologically aligned nightmares, you’re probably going to want to cry or have a breakdown. Do it. There were so many times when I bottled up my emotions and frustrations, and eventually, the little bottle in my head became so overflowed that it exploded. And explosions left me with an even worse feeling. Crying isn’t sacrificing your dignity or being immature, it’s letting your emotions out in a healthy way, and you should always let someone you trust comfort you or talk to you when you cry. Let it out.
Don’t let your guard down. In the first semester of your junior year, you’re going to wonder why everyone says it’s so hard. You’ll load up on extracurriculars and harder classes and then think you’re the exception to the saying. News flash, you’re not. The second semester, your SATs/ACTs, hard classes, fear of college, stressing about the next year, Netflix distractions, volunteer work, friends, parents, and so much more are going to add up fast (remember how I said it’s okay to cry?). It’s perfectly normal to have these things stacked upon you, but don’t let them overwhelm you because you didn’t plan ahead well.
Horror Story: To give a little bit of background, I had never pulled an all-nighter or anything close to it before. I’m also really bad at physics.
It was a dark, cold January night and after seven long hours at theatre rehearsal, I begrudgingly walk into my room filled with the eerieness of the night. I soon came to realize that my presence wasn’t the only thing that filled it with darkness. As I tried to let sleep consume me, I received a terrifying message: “Physics lab due 9:00 a.m.” from the dreaded… Google Classroom. My eyes shot open with fear as I soon realized my terrible, horrible, very bad mistake. For the next two hours, the darkness consumed me as I stared into the bright white light of my most terrifying nightmare yet: a blank Google doc. The rest of the story is too terrifying and hard to look back on, so I’ll leave the rest up to you.
It’s not worth it. That essay, worksheet, project, random assignment, quiz, whatever, isn’t worth not getting sleep or sacrificing time with family and friends. In a year, will the fact that you sacrificed going to dinner with family be less significant than the fact that you finished your project? Not likely. Live your life, and don’t sacrifice every waking moment for schoolwork. That shouldn’t ever be what learning and education are like.
I am definitely guilty of going against this advice, and I regret it. There were too many times that I felt like I lived in an entirely different house from my mom because I lived a routine: school, something after school, come home, go to my room, sit in my bed, do homework, eat dinner, sleep. When I realized I needed to cherish time with my mom and mental health time, this routine, and my life, changed for the better.
Prioritize what you’re interested in. It’s better to have a couple B’s and keep doing great things in outside activities than it is to have all A’s and do nothing but eat, sleep, and study. Stop trying to be an academic robot or trying to beat other people for a better rank or GPA. It’s ok to be human and fail at something. You are at school to learn, not to test well. We are humans, we prioritize the things that we like over things that we’re “supposed” to be doing. And that is ok.
Last but not least, chill out. If it happens, it happens. Whatever it is, in the grand scheme of life, it is not a big deal. It’s one year of high school. If you made a mistake, learn from it. Problem solved. Do you, do what you love, get one step closer to your diploma and work hard! That’s what will matter in the end.
Obviously, a lot of what was said is very general advice. I can’t tell you how to organize your life, or what classes you should and shouldn’t take, because I don’t know you. But if you keep some of this advice in mind, it might guide you to those harder, more specific decisions that you’ll eventually have to make during this year. While nobody’s junior year goes perfect, some do go better than the others. I hope that through my advice, your year becomes one of the better ones. And if your year somehow ends up like mine was, well, good luck Charlie.
If you’d like to see a list of resources that help with organization, studying tips, time management and more, click here!
Featured Image Via Pixabay.