Social Commentary

Statesman embraces the privilege to comment on the significant. Our experiences lead us to reflections and speculations surrounding aspects on students’ lives. The staff hopes our readers will find these insights enlightening and relatable.

I am a stereotypical Stevenson Junior. I crammed my schedule with as many APs as I could take, joined several clubs and juggled it all with maintaining the grades and service hours necessary to be in NHS­­­­­­­­­­­­­—­­­­­­­­­­­­­­only to hope that I make it to 300 club senior year. I do not feel sorry for myself when I stay up all night studying for my tests or writing essays. I chose this life for myself as do hundreds of other students.

Why do I stay up all night testing myself over and over on the antiderivative of tangent or all the important dates of the Civil War? Why do I always grow uneasy when the Infinite Campus application loads on my phone as if I am about to open something that holds the secrets to life? It isn’t that I am afraid of my mother’s reaction: it is that I am more afraid of my dream college easily rejecting me because my grades, leadership or extracurriculars did not meet criteria X, Y or Z.

So I study. I reread notes. I watch videos. I do practice problems. I do not socialize with my friends, nor do I talk to my family. I do everything Stevenson expects me to do—get As, be a leader and get a good ACT score. Yet, there’s a constant thought in the back of my mind that someone else is doing more or doing better. Try harder. Do more work. Pile on more APs. I am filled with stress and panic. Second term is ending—I have three Bs. More stress, more panic.


On average, 40 million American adults over age of 18 develop anxiety disorders in a given year according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. That is about 18 percent of our total population. We are taught how to protect ourselves against physical or body illnesses, but we are never taught how to protect our minds against mental illness. We like to think that we are immune to mental disease, that it will not happen to us. We convince ourselves that it is okay to cram our schedule with seven APs because that means we will get into our dream school someday. It does not matter that we sleep less than five hours each day because that will give us more time to study.

But, it’s not okay. It is good to value our education. However, everything comes with a price. An A+ on a math test, a perfect score on the ACT, countless leadership positions and extracurriculars are not worth the risk of losing your mental health and personal well being.

It is okay to cut the study session short once in a while to get those few hours of needed sleep. It is perfectly normal to take a less challenging course, rather than cramming your schedule with mountains of work. Enjoy a break. Go out with your friends. Don’t hole yourself up in your room during family dinners.

My uncle once told me, “It can’t be that hard. It’s just high school.”

He’s right, it shouldn’t be. But, at Stevenson it may feel like it isn’t just a high school. It’s trying to pull yourself up above the bar but barely moving an inch. However, if taking a moment of leisure time makes you feel like you’re doing something wrong, it may not be worth it. Just because you performed poorly once on an exam, doesn’t mean that your whole future is in shambles. There are always options available to improve your grades, your status in a club and even your ACT score. Your personal well-being and mental health are precious and irreversible.

While I may be the stereotypical Stevenson High School Junior, I know where my limits are. I will not let myself grow to be a part of that 18 percent.