Give us a BREAK

The truth about burnout from the perspective of two upperclassmen, and how to fix it

Give+us+a+BREAK

Angie Bleau and Allie Wang

JUNIOR POV – ALLIE WANG 

Juniors, I feel you.

It is safe to say that the majority of our nights are spent studying for quizzes, writing essays and preparing for exams, sometimes all occurring on the same day. Sure, many of us have chosen to align ourselves with the competitive nature of high school, taking a couple or half a dozen Advanced Placement and Honors classes and doing multiple extracurricular activities, myself included. The healthy stress from challenging ourselves provides an avenue to our destinations: our dream colleges and our unique visions of success.  

Although the second semester of junior year is arguably one of the hardest semesters of high school, high school itself hasn’t been a normal endeavor at all. From the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 to the height of it during the 2020-2021 school year, we haven’t fully adjusted to the rigors of high school. 

Many of us are tired, even though our mentality might be to just “cope” and move on with the next day. The majority of us are suffering from exhaustion and a steady decrease of self-fulfillment, caused by the rigors of junior year and the post-pandemic mental stress from isolation. 

Yet, we are forced to spend twice a month watching presentations about social and emotional health that don’t resolve the root causes of the issue. They deter and detract from what we are all feeling inside. Explaining the prerequisites of AP courses to classrooms full of high-achieving students is, in fact, counterintuitive. So is doing five minutes of meditation that has no impact on the rest of our high school career. The disconnect from the activity periods seem to only amplify and subtly mock the crisis and adding more of the activity periods themselves will not help the burnout crisis. Although OPHS means well, these periods offer no benefits. 

Solutions to truly help ease the second semester stress would be to hold student-teacher panels. Having face-to-face conversations would be the most tangible way to solve this issue. Another possible way is to have opportunities for bonding, such as retreats and special activities. With the world slowly opening up, maintaining relationships is another solution to ease the stress of school and COVID-19. Activity periods could be utilized as study halls to complete and get ahead of homework, or eliminating them all together would provide more instruction from the teachers. 

There is a fine line between mental health and academic achievement, and burnout doesn’t belong there. It may be daunting as high schoolers in particular have to balance school demands, platforms for social interaction, the possibility of getting COVID-19 and navigating post-graduate plans. The added stress could lead to many symptoms such as anxiety and depression, loss of social interaction and physical sickness. 

Thus, it is absolutely imperative that we balance and prioritize, not sacrifice, health in order to ease burnout. It is also important to communicate and address needs from both the students and teachers to fight this crisis. 

From the bottom of my heart, class of 2023, I truly understand how you are feeling.

 

SENIOR POV – ANGIE BLEAU

What day is it? When did they say the assignment is due? So much to do with too little time. The idea of being burnt out is in fact a real thing and I think many people are dealing with it.  It could just be the so-called “senioritis,” but even students in lower grade levels are feeling the same.  

What is causing this burn out, though? No one really knows with complete certainty, but we do have ideas. It could be the academic environment of OPHS, the fact that we are four months away from summer, three months away from spring break or even just that we worked too hard in the first semester and now we are crashing. 

OPHS is a very high achieving school, and the environment of academic success is astronomical. With a highly academic school comes the aspect of competition and the need for having to be the best, take the hardest classes, get a 4.0 or higher to fit in and do as many extracurriculars as humanly possible. 

What for? College? Is giving yourself so much extra pressure worth the ruin of your mental health? All that stress and extra pressure to just be better than everyone? Is it truly worth it? OPHS is a school like no other in the students’ eyes; our mental health is horrible, and many of us are  at the point of a breakdown with the intent of merely getting into a top college. 

I am one of many who can say they are burnt out. I feel like I’m drowning sometimes, or that I don’t have enough time in the day to get things done. I also have little to no motivation to get my things done. While my mindset is that I don’t have to care about school anymore because I finished my college applications, the reality is I do have to care about my grades because my colleges can take back my acceptances if I do poorly in school. So, even though people tell me senior year isn’t that important, they are sadly wrong. 

The senioritis term is defined as a decrease in motivation or performance of a high school or college student last semester. I think most of the seniors this semester are struggling with it and they aren’t alone. We are all either into a college already or waiting for the rest of our decisions. I myself have a major case of senioritis and it’s hard to keep up my motivation. The factors that could have an impact on the students’ senioritis is that the COVID-19 pandemic was smack right in the middle of our high school life, and we went into junior year sitting in bed and not really paying attention in class. 

I think many of my peers, including myself, can honestly say they rarely paid attention during distance learning. Everything that was said to us went in one ear out the next. When senior year came around, we were back to adjusting to being back in school and having to care about school. Since that major readjustment, we never fully were able to get back into the swing of school and that eventually caused many of us to develop worse than normal senioritis. In the past years I found it hard to stay focused on my work and stay motivated. I would try my hardest to get the best grades and be on top of everything.  In senior year, I feel that I don’t need to try now that I’m already into college. I wonder what’s the point now. I just need to pass and I don’t need to strain myself to get top grades. 

We are now stuck in school in a state of burn out, caused by everything ranging from college apps, scholarships and just regular life. If you feel that while we are so close to being done, but you can’t manage to keep going, it’s okay. 

Seniors, I understand and relate to how you are feeling. Exercise, take a moment and breathe, listen to music — just do anything that works for you and relax when life and school gets too stressful.