It’s important to recognize passions, parents, privilege

It’s important to recognize passions, parents, privilege

My eyes blur as I get a headache, stressing over feeling behind on school and extracurriculars. When I take a look around me, I feel overwhelmed by what everyone else is doing: robotics, sports, Speech and Debate, volunteering and an egregious number of AP classes. 

And on top of all of that, some students work a job. Others attend elite summer programs. Some even get internships at research labs they’re hoping to work in. Here are a few thoughts to take into consideration at a high school where it’s easy to let academic pressures influence your decisions.  

Passion. We all want to do as much as we can for our college resume. After all, how else are we supposed to get into a good school? But if students are spending countless hours on classes, they should enjoy them. Some students enjoy pushing themselves and enjoy the rigor of a heavy workload, and that can be a good thing for them. However, not all students should feel like they have to enjoy that same rigor. If students don’t enjoy challenging classes, then they shouldn’t feel the need to take them purely for college or so they don’t feel out of place within Paly’s strong academic culture. The same goes for extracurriculars. As a freshman last year, I thought I would like Speech and Debate and wanted to have it as an extracurricular. I soon came to the realization that it wasn’t for me, and I questioned whether it was worth it or not to keep this extracurricular for my resume, even though I didn’t truly like it. I came to the conclusion students should prioritize extracurriculars they are passionate about. If a student loves what they spend their time on, it fosters and nurtures their curiosity, and that shows. 

Parents. Rather than serve as a driving force behind the pressure kids face, parents should be supportive and understanding of their children’s decisions. Before all the parents come after me, what parents instruct their kids to do may end up being the right decision. However, instead of having everything be black and white, talk about high school together to understand where everyone is coming from. It’s not fair for parents to put too much pressure on students in the name of doing what’s best for their resume. At the same time, students should see that parents want what’s best for them and find a consensus. 

Privilege. Many of us also should check our privileges. We’re lucky if we have the stability, opportunity and resources to spend our time on all of our classes, extracurriculars and sports. The other day, I was stressing out about a math test. As I was leaving for school, my mom who works for an international non-profit was discussing how girls in Afghanistan can’t go to school. While this may be an extreme example, it changed my perspective. It made me appreciate that I even had the opportunity to get education and challenge myself. It’s normal to stress out about our academics, but we should check our privilege and realize how fortunate we are to have academics in the first place. 

While my thoughts may not make any immediate impacts, they’re important to keep in mind moving forward in an intense environment with so many influences. Recognize the importance of balancing your own passions with outside influences like your resume, parents and friends. Explore your passions, nurture your own curiosity, and the rest will come. 

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