Junior year: searching for the ingredients of success

“What did you get on the quiz?” “How many APs are you taking?” “Are you doing an independent study?” These questions constantly occupy not only my mind but the minds of almost every other Menlo student as well. When did success begin to be measured by the number of AP classes you’re taking or the GPA on your progress report?

As high school goes by, the pressure of colleges and careers begins to weigh down on you. The anxiety goes up, and the struggle towards perfection becomes more intense. While grades are important, they will not determine your future and in fact, spending time stressing over past grades instead of looking towards the future, is just a waste a time. However, although Menlo prides itself in being a community not just centrerd on grades, but also on its arts, athletics and strong ethical behavior, students feel the weight of the numbers far more than anything else.

For me, success is not a number, or a letter, or a percent. Success is the friends you make, the personal goals you set and reach, and the inner confidence you gain. Having witnessed my sister go through her junior year, along with experiencing it myself, I’ve realized how much time is spent stressing over grades and classes. The classes, teachers, standardized tests, and looming cloud called college constantly hovers over my classmates and me. Junior year, although cliché and extremely overused, is in fact the year where you begin to set priorities. An overwhelming number of students spend their time worrying about the future or obsessing about the past, however not many look at the present. Next time you have a test, prepare for it, take it, and then get over it, because what’s done is done. Time and energy are precious, and now is the time to decide how you want to spend them.

In 20 years we will look back at our high school experience and remember how we spent our time and youth. Unfortunately though, it will be impossible to remember every dance, every goal, every grade. But which would you rather remember: the A you got on your APUSH paper, or the time your friends surprised you by bringing baked goods and balloons to school on your birthday? For me, I would rather remember the caring, comical, and considerate friends I’ve met, friends that will outlast a single grade by decades.

For my entire freshman year I had the joy of watching my older sister suffer through an extremely brutal (from my viewpoint) year of high school, her junior year. To be honest, as a freshman, this really scared me. I hadn’t yet experienced the workload that Menlo would soon offer, and waiting in anticipation is one of the hardest things for me to do. But all I could do was sit there and watch her go through the motions of essay after essay and test after test. As I watched my sister, along with many other juniors, struggle towards trying to achieve perfection, I realized that this was impossible. Although I always try my hardest to achieve good grades, I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that perfection is impossible. So instead of stressing over my failures and getting stuck in the past, I believe that “everything happens for a reason”.

Unfortunately everyone has failures, but your past should never determine your future. Instead of worrying about the B- you got on your last test, focus on preparing for your next one. You can’t change your past, and in a few months you won’t even remember it. So why waste energy worrying, when you could be focusing on things that put a smile on your face instead?