Push the PAUSE button!

Better later, next time sooner – a sequel to Give us a BREAK

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Allie Wang, Ombudsman

We all know that junior year of high school is arguably the most difficult year, especially one that is exacerbated by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. When March rolled around, I was anticipating another month filled with yet a more difficult workload. 

Surprisingly, March was lighter, and I only had to worry about personal things, such as family members’ birthdays and gatherings and superficial things like my Vice dress or mall trips.

I was so relieved that I didn’t expect the full force of April to crash into me. Quizzes and tests at every corner, grade drops, all with the impending doom of AP exams. Coordinating two big projects for English, along with organizing interviews, publishing magazines, preparing for several music performances and studying, all happened to collide in the last two weeks of the month. Trying to keep it all up, I continued my 4-5 hour sleep schedule, my one meal a day and my couple sips of water in order to make sure I completed it all. 

For a sense of fun and a break, I agreed to participate in the last rally of the school year with one of my closest friends. Looking back, it wasn’t a horrible decision. I just wished I was prepared beforehand, and especially for the aftermath.

Long story short, I fell during the game, hit my head hard and felt extremely tired, agitated, embarrassed, dizzy and groggy. To this day, it is difficult remembering what I did immediately after, but in fifth period, I remember being unable to barely pick up a book without a massive migraine and headache and unable to concentrate with the lights and loud noises around me. Soon after, I went to the doctor, and she told me I needed to stay home, with no studying, no devices, no bright lights and plenty of water and rest. The entire time there, I kept arguing again and again with my father about how I needed to go home and study. 

The following Saturday, my piano juries were postponed, my teachers were notified of my condition and all the other important events I had for the day were canceled as well. My sister contacted my two best friends about the gravity of the situation, and I could barely comprehend the fact that I couldn’t do anything. The helplessness was clear and evident to my mother, who tried to assure me that everything would be okay. 

My friends lately have been telling me to stop and slow down, but my ignorance of their comments proved to be detrimental. Sometimes, it is really okay to pause. Slow down. That doesn’t mean to just stop and quit everything. The key is to push the pause button when you are able to, and not get knocked down until you are forced to realize it (literally).

For those of you who might be in the same boat, who might be silently trying to keep it together for the rest of the school year, it is perfectly okay to take that day, to know your limit. With the increasing competitiveness of college admissions, we might feel the need to continue pushing and studying and just forget everything else. 

In a competitive environment, it may seem nearly impossible. But, it is entirely possible. Missing school, loosening a commitment or bombing one exam won’t kill you. Academics will never, ever be on the same level as physical or mental collapse. 

Your version of success should not come at the expense of your personal health. 

For all the graduating seniors, please take this advice as you embark on your post-graduate journeys. For my fellow juniors and underclassmen, learn to balance. Have close friends to gently remind you. If it weren’t for them helping me and if it weren’t for the people who have encouraged me to pause my steps, the worst would have happened at the worst time. 

Take this into heart as we near the end of the school year. It is never too late to adapt and push “pause.”