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Your Classes, Your Choices: CHS students should choose courses based on interests rather than outside pressures.

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It’s now that time of year when everyone starts preparing for the year ahead, whether that means preparing for your final days at this school or just a well-needed summer break. It is also that time of year when everyone finalizes their class schedules, making sure that you’re happy with what you’re taking.

For me, this has often meant planning yet another year around what I think others want to see or what I think would make me “successful.” At this time last year, I filled up my schedule with the hardest classes I could—my friends were doing the same, so why couldn’t I? I was ready to push through these two final years and gather as much knowledge as I could. I needed to prove something—to others but mainly to myself; I needed to prove that I was somehow worthy of this idea of “greatness.” 

This was a lot to think about when simply deciding on a class schedule, but it was all part of a project to tailor myself into someone that could be considered impressive or brilliant or talented to the rest of the world—someone who could seem like she was going on to do big things. I did this by signing up for a much-too-difficult schedule with a list of extracurriculars while simultaneously dealing with the stress of being a teenager. I followed what others were doing instead of taking a second to question what I was doing.

Due to this, I’ve spent my junior year of high school juggling a million things while watching my happiness and appreciation towards life slowly declining. As my mental health deteriorated, I started letting things slip and was no longer doing as well in my classes. I still worked hard, but it seemed impossible to get everything done.

According to statistics, I was not alone. The American Psychological Association found that school is a major stressor for 83 percent of teens, 31 percent reported feeling overwhelmed, and 30 percent reported feeling depressed as a result of this stress. At Carmel, I hear so many students who jokingly talk about dying due to the high pressure and more who say they feel depressed or overwhelmed.

Many of us overwork ourselves in order to catch up to our other over-achieving peers or do what we think we’re supposed to be doing. However, when deciding how to spend our time, happiness is probably the most crucial but overlooked aspect. As you plan your year, focus on what makes you excited to get up in the morning and what you want to do instead of what you have to do. That’s not to say you shouldn’t take difficult courses or work hard, but we only have a limited number of hours in a day, and it would be a waste to spend those hours not living life the way we want to live it.

The views in this column do not necessarily reflect the views of the HiLite staff. Reach Raiha Zainab at rzainab@hilite.org.

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