The SOVA Project is happy to feature this blog post written by one in our team of fantastic SOVA Ambassadors—these are young people who help create meaningful blog posts from adolescents’ perspectives. We hope you can use their post to start a conversation with your adolescent.
Throughout my junior year of high school, I was beyond stressed with things coming up left and right. I had jumped from 2 advanced classes to 5 classes, was an officer of several clubs, and had three different extracurriculars after school. I told myself at the beginning of the year before taking the plunge that I could handle it, “It will all be over in a mere 9 months right?” Big mistake.
I lost so much precious time and sleep trying to balance my academic and social health that my mental health was at risk. I started to procrastinate on different assignments telling myself that I had time to do it while I would rush to finish more demanding assignments. I slowly sacrificed the only time I really had left: my sleep.
My daily schedule would become a nonstop cycle. I would wake up at 6 am, get to school at 7 am and scramble to finish all the assignments that I left during that one hour period before school starts. 8 am to 3:30 pm, I would go from class to class, everything I was learning would go by in a blur. I would finally be back home at 4:30 pm and I would crash on my couch until 7:30 pm when my parents would wake me up. I would slowly get to my homework around 8:30 pm after eating and I would not stop until 2-3 am in the morning. This unhealthy cycle became my life and I was falling asleep in all the wrong places.
While I received the grades I needed to get into my safety colleges at the time, my performance was nowhere near where I wanted them to be. I was slowly taking on the persona of a narcissist to hide the fact that I was drowning. I started looking at everything in life as a joke, and I would laugh all the time at the most inconvenient of times. People around me were starting to get irritated and I would get irritated by them. I started missing a day of school every two weeks so I could get at least one day to recuperate and refocus.
Colleges say that they want an applicant that challenged themselves and I really took that to heart. I really challenged myself, and I ultimately failed myself while I was at it. Sadly, colleges do not take in to account the fact that students were challenging themselves if they fail in the end.
I want to say that peer pressure was the sole culprit of this mess. Students around me were taking four to six advanced classes, doing four different extracurriculars (excelling in all of them), and was president of various clubs or a part of different sports. If they could do it, why could I not? However, the sad reality is that peer pressure was only a part of the problem. I was drowning because of the poor decisions I was making so I was the one to blame.
Six things I would do if I could go back and change this part of my life would be:
1) Always leave extra time in your schedule for yourself, so if your circumstances change you have time you can allot to adapt.
2) Never pile on more things then you can handle, or you will slowly start to procrastinate. Focus on one or two aspects you want to get better at, so you do not spread yourself too thin.
3) Advanced courses are almost never “easy A’s”. While one person may think it is, everyone is different from each other and have very different interests and schedules.
4) Sleep is incredibly important, especially for a developing teenager, you should never think about sacrificing it.
5) Find an activity that helps you relieve your stress, whether it is drawing or even writing.
6) Finally, I found that it was extremely helpful to talk to someone who was detached from my daily schedule to talk to near the end of the year, as they are the people who are least likely to judge you but would rather analyze your problems and give you advice.
What are standards like in your household on being busy and what your child accomplishes in school? What signs do you look for to see if your child is stressed or burning out?