Throughout high school, I’ve always heard that senior year would be the easiest, most fun year- the year when you could just lay back and enjoy yourself. Unfortunately, and though | know it is mostly by my own doing, I have not found it to be my easiest year at all. College, senior project, all on top of four AP classes have made senior year my most stressful yet. Though at this point I think the worst is over, it certainly has been one crazy autumn. Over that summer, I had planned on alleviating some of the burden of senior year by completing my college applications and senior project.
However, I spent most of the summer working at an overnight summer camp, cutting short the time I had to work on any of this. On my off time, I didn’t want to spend it locked indoors, writing essays for college and putting together a senior project, and so I justified spending most of my free time with my friends by telling myself this will probably be the last summer where we are all together, and I should make the most of it. Any time I felt the smallest inkling of motivation strike, I spent it on my summer reading assignments.
While this made for an enjoyable summer, it was probably the best summer I have had so far in high school, it left me woefully unprepared for the autumn to come. Thave always taken the most honors classes that would fit in my schedule, and am well aware of the workload involved. Since Thad all of my core classes my last semester of junior year, it would be quite similar to what I would be experiencing my first semester of senior year. Though still anxious, I went into senior year not expecting all that earth-shattering of a workload.
I would have been right had I taken into account senior project and college applications. On their own, my classes presented not much of an increase from junior year as far as work and stress, however; compiled with my other two major obligations, and suddenly I found a dramatic shift in my stress levels. I have never been one to be overwhelmed by school work, but often times when I got home I would feel paralysed by all that I had to do. An endless list would always run through my head of homework assignments, tests to study for, application essays, and the nagging itch of senior project.
Whenever I found a moment to relax, I would always be thinking, “What could I be doing instead? ” My mind could always come up with a good long list of obligations I was shirking, or better things I could be doing. While tennis season was going on, I had a decent excuse to be behind on senior project or my common application. Those things were due months from now, I told myself, and I would have plenty of time to complete them once the season was over.
With the end of tennis season, though, I found myself facing deadlines coming up with alarming speed, especially since I was applying early decision to Brown. Though in the past Thave always parceled out work so I wouldn’t end up doing it all at once, I found myself doing the exact opposite when it came to college applications. I would take a day and do all of my supplementary essays, another weekend to do my common app essay, and another to edit everything, rather than taking it in small chunks.
Though yes, I did get it done in time to submit it early decision, I wish I had been done farther from the deadline so I would not be stressed thinking about it while doing nothing. The same thought process applied to my senior project. I waited until the last minute to complete all of it, and though I finished it and it was of reasonable quality, I still wished I had saved myself the stress of always having it in the back of my mind by doing it earlier. In the way, I found myself in the predicament of Reverend Dimmesdale of The Scarlet Letter- my stress was selfcreated, and easily rectified.
There was nothing stopping me from taking a weekend in the summer or during tennis season to do my senior project or college application and getting it over with, but I instead put them off with weak excuses and let myself suffer. Despite all the stress incurred this autumn, I still was able to find many moments of joy and fulfillment. I went to homecoming with a large group of friends, and had an absolute blast. With most of us being able to drive, I could spontaneously hang out or go to lunch with friends to unwind.
Spirit Day, in spite of all the chaos in the weeks leading up to it, was incredibly fun and made me truly feel like a senior, especially when crowds of underclassmen would part ways seeing me stride down the hall in all black. I have more freedom than ever, especially now that I am no longer going over to my dad’s house certain weeknights and every other weekend. These moments of fun and freedom have balanced out the hecticness of senior year, and keep me grounded as to what this year should really be about.
Though this autumn has seen me almost melt down over the stress of it, I have come out the better for it. Now that my applications are done and my product for senior project complete, I feel a huge lightness that allows me to enjoy the remaining weeks of autumn without obsessing and feeling guilty that I should be working. It seems strange, but it will be a nice feeling to only have to worry about taking four AP classes. Hopefully, the end of this autumn will be harbinger to better times this senior year.