Dec 01, 2017

Take Time Out to De-Stress

By Lori Draz and Skye Loures

Welcome to Teen Scene. Each month, our young authors write, in their own voice, stories that will educate and inform fellow students and parents. If you are a teen who would like to write your story, contact The Journal. We’ll help you polish it up, so don’t worry – let’s just get to sharing.

This month’s author is Holmdel’s Skye Loures, a 16-year-old sophomore at Trinity Hall. The holiday season is perhaps the busiest time of the year. Even though we are participating in a seemingly never-ending variety of the most joyous activities, we still can find ourselves stressed, rushed, and overloaded. We place ourselves in jeopardy of sacrificing the quality of experiences for quantity. This month’s author, as do many students, feels the pressures of being involved in numerous scholastic activities. She has confronted the impact that being a high achiever could make on her time with family and friends and shows us that it is possible to make choices that include both. Here’s to happy, stress-free holidays to all! And here is Skye’s story.

 

Imagine this: It’s Sunday, at approximately 3:30 in the afternoon, and you have a sense of urgency. You’ve been busy all weekend with athletics and other obligations. There’s a lab report to be written, a PowerPoint to be finished, and you have a choice. Your first option is to stay at home and toil over schoolwork. The second is to go with your family to a long-awaited reunion where you’ll get no work done. I faced this dilemma last week when my grandmother came to town. Choosing between a good grade and a family reunion seems like a no-brainer, but I’m ashamed to say that I hesitated. Grades seem to carry so much weight in my life that I momentarily lost focus of what’s most important: my family. High school is a formative time, wrought with tension, nerves, and anxiety, but it’s also a period of my life I want to remember fondly. I’m sure that if I had chosen to stay at home, I would’ve most definitely been remorseful and unhappy with my decision.

Since my high school journey began, I’ve been enamored with Ivy League schools. The idea of attending a prestigious institution such as Brown or Princeton captivated me to no end. But after my first trimester of sophomore year and an entire summer of self-reflection, I’m not so sure that’s what I want. Fortunately, going to college is an attainable goal for me. I know that this is not the case for many other students, and I understand how lucky I am. I’m blessed to have an unparalleled support system of loving parents, a wonderful school, and outstanding friends. This being said, sometimes I feel like I’ll disappoint if I go to the “wrong” college or don’t live up to expectations. What if I don’t get into my dream school? Am I doing enough extracurriculars? Are my grades good enough? How many hours of volunteering do I have so far? And the most important query of all: will I look back on high school fondly, or with a sense of distaste and regret? Too many of my friends and classmates feel the same.

Personally, I like to think I have a lot on my plate; I take SAT prep classes, I volunteer, I participate in athletics, I help with my school’s theatre productions, and have to complete my regular workload of honors classes and one AP course. I’m also currently a student of Brookdale’s Fast Start, a remarkable program that allows high school students to take college courses for credit. I’m always busy; always working on something or thinking about the next deadline, as teens my age usually are. Ever since school began, sports have consumed the bulk of my time. This season, I was on the Navesink River Rowing crew team and the Trinity Hall crew team. I had practice every single day of the week for my first marking period. As for community service, I volunteer at the Red Bank Primary School every Monday, tutoring second grade kids in reading, math, and writing. There are millions of other students just like me, never taking a breath in their extracurricular-packed days.

My story is far from unique. In this day and age, teens from all backgrounds have to go the extra mile constantly to stand a chance in college admissions. Everyone has to be involved in programs, clubs, volunteering, sports (or theatre!) – all while keeping their grades afloat. Crushing pressure is placed on some of these teens, especially those whose families may need financial aid for higher education. But are we as students overloaded? Or are we actually overloading ourselves? Are we doing too much? How do we know when to stop? Many of my best friends have high aspirations for college, and it’s good to have goals. But I begin to worry when I have to comfort someone over less-than-perfect grades, or console a friend who’s stressing out while on the brink of tears. Most students I know are what colleges call “well-rounded,” but no one truly feels like they’re doing enough. Being involved in scholastically beneficial activities is important, but we must learn to prioritize what’s most important, whether it be family, friends, emotional health, or something else entirely. The winding path to higher education is fraught with obstacles, but that doesn’t mean these obstacles need to hinder us from spending time with loved ones. Especially as the holidays roll around, we, as students, should always strive to be our best, but we can’t forget to enjoy life and make memories we’ll cherish for a lifetime.