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Dealing with the Pressure to Define Your Future

By: Helen Kaidantzis

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that I’ve stopped joining clubs, sports, and extracurriculars for pleasure, and I instead engage in these activities because I feel like they will boost my college application. There is a tremendous amount of pressure placed on high school students to define their future and figure out what they want to do in just four short years. Personally, this pressure has caused me to sacrifice the things I love, like spending time with my friends or photography. Instead, I spend my time taking challenging classes, studying for standardized tests, and adding on extracurricular activities to become the perfect applicant. Although it’s good to be a strong student and be well rounded, there is a balance.

After beginning to work on my college applications, I struggled to write about the countless jobs I had with organizations that I felt disconnected from or the ten school clubs I was a part of whose meetings were only three times a year. These activities meant nothing to me. It was much easier to write about my passions. In taking on so many superficial jobs and activities, I had almost abandoned the small handful of volunteer opportunities, sports, and hobbies that I love. They were experiences I not only enjoyed but also ones that aligned with my values and interests. They would expand my impact on the world and help me become a better person. Although it took me four years, I’ve come to realize you don’t have to be the best at everything, you only have to be passionate about a few things, and most people already are.

However, even if you’ve made this realization as a freshman, high school is still emotionally draining. Some schools are more cutthroat than others, but there is often an underlying sense of competition amongst students that can be overwhelming. Although I love watching movies when I’m stressed, when they are over, I always return to the real world where all my problems still exist. One coping mechanism that has helped me relieve stress and reflect on any tough decisions I’m making is yoga.

My mind runs a million miles an hour. As soon as I finish one task or assignment, I worry about the next. Although I only started yoga a few months ago and have been doing it online with my yoga teacher through Zoom, it has helped me slow down and appreciate doing nothing. Learning breathing exercises in yoga has helped me calm down before big tests and soothe any anxious thoughts. If you are dealing with high school troubles or worried about defining your future, I recommend trying yoga. It can be a peaceful time for deep reflection and can bring clarity. There are hundreds of great yoga lessons posted all over YouTube, making it easy for anyone to do!

Helen is one of our lovely InTouch Volunteers. We are thankful for Helen as well as the rest of the beautiful souls who volunteered with InTouch in the 2020 Fall Season!

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