✍ CURRENTLY WRITING FROM: SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA
I’ve learned a pretty good amount of lessons lately, and I want to share some of them, because sometimes learning from other people’s experiences, even if you don’t need the advice, can inspire you to do something better today.
I started school in the last week of July, and I’m now a senior in high school. I keep forgetting. My birthday was on the twenty-fourth, and I also keep forgetting that I’m seventeen.
My “senior project” that I set out for myself (I don’t know, so far, from all the books and movies I’ve seen, it looks like a every character ever, during the summer before their senior year, decides that they want to do something with their life, and that it should happen during their senior year?) was to start a magazine at our school. Not the school newspaper—a magazine.
My original whimsical and/or wistful, hazy dream was that a bunch of girls with the same sense of aesthetic would meet in a room during lunch once or twice a week, and I’d bring my laptop to school, and we’d play music that felt right and cut stuff up that we’d treasure and then, in between moments, talk about things that are stupid that we’d later regret calling stupid, and then build long-lasting relationships that would last throughout the year and maybe, if lucky, a year and half after high school.
Instead, it became a pretty big idea, and then we were thinking about making it an actual magazine with actual contributions and then getting it printed and handing it out or selling it at school.
Simply put, after the idea was getting bigger, the next few weeks were me enduring one or two panic attacks too many. I stressed out over how I didn’t think I was ready for the responsibility; how I don’t know how to talk in front of an audience yet; how I need to do this to have an impressive application for college; how, if I didn’t do it, I was going to regret not doing something exciting in my senior year my entire life; and, worst of all, how I was wasting so much time thinking and staring at myself in mirrors, hoping my reflection would somehow reveal some groundbreaking news, or something.
Because I’m incredible and didn’t take a Health class my freshman year, I am now. We’ve been learning about mental illnesses lately, and today we learned about depression. The causes of depression, our handout said, were:
- A shortage or imbalance of mood-influencing chemicals in the brain, along with possible side-effects in medication, illnesses, and infections.
- People with low self-esteem or those who constantly degrade and punish themselves are more prone to becoming depressed.
- Genetics—people can “inherit” depression.
- Certain severe, life-altering situations can cause depression.
Among these, piling on too many responsibilities and getting incredibly stressed can lead to becoming depressed, as well.
With the piled-on stress (I don’t even remember signing up for my AP Art History class, but that happened), I decided I didn’t feel like taking a chance. So I decided to just not. No to the magazine.
But it’s upsetting, because this thing mattered to me. I really wanted to do this. It would be my senior experience. Plus, it was my last chance of being impressive for colleges. Because, unfortunately, my grades for the past few years aren’t a correct representation of who I am.
The thing I am grateful for, though, is that this experience has taught me things about myself. I decided I needed to manage my time. I decided I didn’t want to risk having my anxiety get worse. I didn’t want to hate myself every day the entire year. And, I decided that my senior experience would be me growing as a writer. Practicing as much as I can, send pieces out to be published, read as much as I could to be able to proudly attribute “writer” to who I am.
Basically, even if it was just this one time, I learned to think about the consequences and how it could affect my life and my happiness. Which is also something that I learned… respect your body and how happy you are.
Which leads to something else (how convenient, all these life lessons tied together!)—work hard, play hard. I used to have an unhealthy “it all works out in the end” philosophy, which seems like it’s a good philosophy, but I was irresponsible with it. For everything to work out in the end, you also have to make sure you contribute.
Although I admit it’s too late, this year I’ve been working my hardest and studying like I never have before—and I can honestly say I’ve never been so proud of the straight A’s I currently have and all the 100%’s I’ve been getting. I have this additional personal rule where I swore I would never apologize for not posting consistently or try to explain why there hasn’t been an update in a while, but I felt like I should record in history the fact that internet use has, in fact, been limited because of my sudden dedication to, like, my life.
I should also warn you I won’t read this post over before I publish it, this is pure honesty mixed with embarrassing word vomit at its finest.
I’m grateful for how much I’ve learned about myself. I used to think I was a free spirit with a bottomless supply of energy, but last week I fell asleep in class for the first time. I have heard of people who say that they fell asleep in a class (“Yo dude, Econ was so boring, she lectured the entire time, I passed out and slept the entire time.”), but I never actually believe them, because, well, who falls asleep in class? Who is actually, physically able to fall asleep in class?
At least, that’s what I used to think.
After a night of crying over my neat pile of textbooks and studying, I went to bed at two o’clock in the morning. But, I the brilliant person I am, drank coffee all night to stay awake. So guess who only slept two hours that one night?
After about 15 minutes in my Art History classroom, with the lights dimmed and my teacher lecturing us from the back of the room, I gently placed my head on my textbook and woke up ten minutes later to find my teacher still lecturing, talking about Byzantine art.
Guys, love your bodies. Please.