A cup of java a day keeps the F’s away

Tick, tock.

Tick, tock.

Tick tock.

Rrrrrriiiinngggg! It’s 7:00 am! Let’s get up from bed and face another day of school while running on three hours of sleep! Woohoo!

This has been my life for the past two months. I can’t imagine going to bed before at least 2:00 am, even when my eyes droop down to my desk, and I can’t tell the difference between a ‘one’ and a ‘seven’ in the math equation because everything becomes blurry. Just…one…more…question…

When I was in elementary school, I found the concept of pulling ‘all-nighters’ to be quite exciting. Staying up all night to finish homework was my transition into adulthood. It’s what every kid in every Disney Channel show did. It was my key to becoming an official high school student…a teenager.

Boy, do I really regret that thought.

Here’s the truth about all-nighters and staying up late: television needs to stop romanticizing it. It is not a great feeling. It’s equivalent to having a hangover in the morning, minus all the ‘fun’ of the alcohol. Every day, I feel like a zombie walking through school. I am breathing, yes. I am aware of my surroundings, yes. My brain is functioning, yes. I am living, no.

If I was given the opportunity to take an entire day to sleep, or even just lie in bed, I would take it in a heartbeat. All-nighters drain you out like crazy. Fortunately for me, I have not yet gone to the point of pulling an all-nighter for school work because I tend to finish my work by 2:00 am (which is ‘better,’ per say, but at least I get some rest). I know for a fact that I will not be able to function in school without a minimum of three hours of sleep. Six hours seem close to impossible, and don’t even get me started on trying to get eight hours the week before March break.

Three tests, two presentations, two assignments, all due next week. Senior year is really a buzzkill. As exciting as it sounds to be able to go to prom and graduate and be ‘on top of the world,’ the euphoria does not kick in for a while, so don’t get your hopes up just yet. I’m sure it will come to me eventually.

My advice, however, is this: practice time management. I cannot stress to you how important it is in high school, especially as you move forward into your upper years. Many grade nines that I speak to tend to take it for granted, but trust me, good practice with time management goes a long way. For myself, I would say that I have learned to manage my time efficiently, with school, extra-curricular activities (and quite a few of them), socializing and spending time with friends, spending time with family, and finding time for myself, because you really need it.

School is always important, but remember to prioritize. If you leave yourself enough time to do the things you want to do, you will have less stress. Stress is inevitable in life, and high school is just the beginning, but there are ways to effectively manage stress, with time management being one of them. Tests, quizzes, assignments, and presentations will come and go, but you only have one life. Take some time to enjoy yourself. High school is not about work, work, and more work. You only get to be a teenager once. The best thing you can do is balance.

If you feel as though the stress is getting to be too much, talk to someone. Please, talk to someone. I promise you someone is there to listen to you, whether it be parents, friends, guidance councillors, siblings, teachers, coaches, or anyone you feel comfortable approaching. High school is not about doing everything all at once. You should be given the opportunity to enjoy the last four years of your adolescence. If you feel like you need to drop a course to balance your schedule, don’t be afraid to talk to your guidance department about it. If you feel left behind in math class, talk to a friend or your parents about after-school help or finding a tutor. There are so many options waiting for you…you need to figure out what options are best for you.

Don’t feel like you need to do everything at once, because trust me, you are not a superhuman. We all have a breaking point, with some being able to bear a heavier load than others. Find your maximum capacity, and use it to your fullest potential. Don’t take it for granted.

And please, for god’s sake, get some sleep at some point or another. Let your body recover from all the work you’ve put in. It needs to replenish all the lost hours of rest. You can’t run on a cup of java every day. Despite what those Hallmark mugs may say, coffee is not the solution to all of your problems.

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