As I submitted my first (and hopefully last) college applications, the realization that I am actually a senior hit me. It was a bittersweet moment for me; it was so relieving to know that years of hard work were finally going to pay off, but, at the same time, it was confirmation that I am getting ready to leave a huge part of my life behind. It was also a huge relief to finally be done with one of the major stressors I was dealing with.
Completing the first step in this anxiety-producing process prompted me to think about the expectations and stress that come with the first semester of senior year. No one talks about how difficult the first semester of senior year truly is, all you hear about is how hard junior year is. To any juniors, just know it gets worse. You are expected to balance grades, sports, college applications, and maintaining a social life. Not only do you have to keep up with the expectations of high school, but you are also trying to plan for your future. For me, this first semester has caused me to realize just how burnt out I truly am.
I have been an overachiever for the majority of my time in school. I have taken challenging classes, played varsity sports, and gotten involved with numerous clubs during my four years at KO. And, truthfully, a lot of these experiences are ones that I wouldn’t trade for the world because they shaped me into the person I am today. But, it doesn’t change the fact that as I entered this first semester, I began feeling incredibly burnt out. I know that this is a common feeling among seniors, probably because we are looking ahead to our future while also having so much on our plates
Burnout isn’t something unique to me, or to seniors from KO, but I wanted to talk about it because I feel like it’s something that’s swept under the rug. When thinking about your senior year, you mainly hear about how exciting it is because you are starting to close a chapter of your life and prepare for a new one. As you finish your junior year, you are told that you did it, you made it through the hardest year of your high school career, but unfortunately, I have found that to be completely untrue.
The beginning of the year hit me like a ton of bricks, I was not at all prepared for the sheer amount of work I would have to do in such a short amount of time. Not only was there the workload of my classes, but there was also the time-consuming and confusing college process looming over me.
The classes I once would have enjoyed taking began to feel like a chore. And, the classes that typically would have been challenging for me felt insufferable. As I battled through the first few weeks of classes, I realized that I needed to make some adjustments in order to not let burnout get the best of me. I needed to switch classes and alter my course load in an effort to make my responsibilities more manageable. The idea of dropping classes is usually frowned upon, but I think that it is something that needs to be utilized more. There is no harm in knowing that something isn’t going to work for you, and usually the sooner that you accept it the better off you will be.
Of course, we are told that the college process will be stressful, but for me it was way more than expected. Managing this stress can be extremely difficult, especially if you don’t know where you want to go or what you want to study.
My hope in sharing the parts of this first quarter that I found challenging is to remind everyone making difficult decisions for yourself is okay. Combating burnout can be a hard thing to do, and everyone deals with it differently. What you need to do for yourself and what other people need from you are often completely different. It doesn’t diminish your achievements to lower your course load, and it will not make or break the quality of your high school experience.
As you are navigating some of the most stressful months of your life, you are also preparing to make a big step in your future. Do what you feel you need to do to manage this, whether it is doing activities that you enjoy or spending less time on school – as long as you still do your work. Don’t allow yourself to be consumed by this process. Remember to live a little.
While you have to push through this process, you also should be able to enjoy the fact that you are in your senior year. You won’t ever be a senior in high school again, so take advantage of the experiences that are presented to you.