What grade did I get on my math test? I slept only three hours last night. How many AP classes are you taking? What college are you applying to? I can’t study anymore. What score did you get on your SATs? On your ACTs? Did you study? I don’t want to go to a community college. What if I don’t get into my first choice? How high is your GPA? Their acceptance rate is 22%. I spent all weekend doing homework. Can’t I have a break?
Do you recognize yourself?
Society, school, parents, and our fellow peers have made us believe life is one big race. We are pressured to impress and compete. It has been imprinted in our brains that right after high school is college, that you are supposed to know your major right away. Why does everyone have to reach these milestones at the same time?
I’m not saying you shouldn’t go to college; I will go to college. I’m not saying you shouldn’t get good grades; I’ve gotten straight As and had my share of AP classes. What I’m saying is that it doesn’t hurt to slow down. We should live each moment, take time to hug your parents, play with your dog, or go on a hike. Don’t dwell on the future and how you are going to be successful; you may unknowingly be blocking out other things that are just as valuable.
Failed your math test? You can study more next time. Didn’t get the 1,900 you wanted on your SAT? You can take it again. Didn’t get into your top school? There will always be another choice. Didn’t get into a four year university? Go to community college then transfer. When one door closes, another one opens.
I have decided to take a gap year after high school. That doesn’t mean I’ll be sitting on the couch eating potato chips. It means, instead of switching from high school books to heavier college ones, I’ll be working. I’ll be traveling to Peru to improve my Spanish. I’ll be attending a semester at National Outdoor Leadership School in the Rockies, self-reflecting and setting goals, while building my wilderness ethic and skills. Many shy away from gap years because they feel they won’t return to school, but I’m certain I will. I know I need college, but I also know that I deserve a break after 12 years of the overwhelming stress of school.
Think to yourself, are you content with the realization that you have to be the best to succeed?
John Lennon once said, “When I was five years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy.’ They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.”