homework

Senioritis

BY ERICA

I’m fading, and I’m fading fast.

I’m three out of four years, seven out of eight semesters, and 117 out of 128 weeks done with high school.

I remember when the countdown to graduation first began. The class of 2015 had just graduated, we were the new seniors on the block, and everything seemed promising. Saying “we’re graduating in 364 days!” seemed amusing to us because it seemed so far away; not real enough to really care, but close enough to hope. Now, here we are, filling out graduation forms, registering for graduation, sending in yearbook pictures and choosing senior quotes, and the prospect of graduating seems so real.

Yet oddly still so far.

It’s the oxymoronic phrase that has long been the bane of my existence: “so close, yet so far”. It seems unfair, high school’s last big prank on us students—getting us so close to taste the end, but still leaving us so far that we have to work for it.

The temptation now is to just give up. It’s not necessarily a full and total giving up, since we’ve come much too far to let our GPAs tank and our high school careers to plummet. It’s more of a “stop trying” kind of attitude, where in a world without repercussions we’d skip class and sleep all day and go to Starbucks every four hours and do all the things and have all the fun adventures we’ve always wanted to do in the last six months before we leave home.

The effects of this second-semester slump are becoming strikingly evident in everything. It’s evident in the sheer amount of passive aggressive smiley faces sent and received on a daily basis between seniors, in the number of times they complain about how they can’t wait to graduate, how they aren’t in the mood to deal with homework, and how they laid down for a 20-minute nap and instead slept for five hours.

This spectrum of senioritis, from the complete and utter not caring about high school to the “still does homework on time but without happiness and enthusiasm” is evident in nearly the entire grade, even in those good students with perfect GPAs and perfect participation grades who do their homework three days before they’re due.

After three years of college prep, after seven semesters of keeping pristine high school track records, after 117 weeks of preparing for and taking numerous standardized tests, the desire to stop trying is overwhelming. But it must be resisted.

I’m on my third time-management/homework system in the past four months. My life somehow is more structured and less stressful than ever, but it seems to take more willpower to get things done. Homework gets finished, but with less enthusiasm and less interest than it ever has. Going to class is more of a necessary evil to finish the semester with good grades than actually for the joy and purpose of learning new material.

I’m glad my weeks have become habitual. Going to bed, waking up, class, work, homework, and karate have all become so repetitive that I can go through my week without a second thought. Monday becomes Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and then the process repeats again.

In ninety-six days we will be standing, shoulder to shoulder, in our blue caps and gowns, saying things like “I’m going to miss you all so much” and “I can’t believe we made it” and whatever other cliché yet admittedly heartfelt phrases are usually said at graduations. In ninety-six days it will be over and we will be talking about where we’re going off to college and how much we’re going to keep in touch and all of the other things normally said at the end of this phase in life. And in ninety-six days, this whole motivational slump will be over.

But we still have eleven weeks of school to go.

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Why I Didn’t Do Physics Homework

By Allison.

This post was mostly sparked by Erica, who asked me the other day why I let myself get a full chapter behind in physics class. At first, I was shocked myself, at my seeming lack of passion, at my decision to ignore a week’s worth of physics homework, at my apparent poor choices. But after some introspection, I knew there was more to the story, I knew there was a different perspective to be gained. So, here’s some more of me.

I’m crying again. I shouldn’t be. Nothing so simple, so barely disappointing, so easily fixed, should make me cry so much. But now I can’t stop. Again. Now I can’t help myself. What is it, the fourth time this week? The fifth? I break down over little things. A bad quiz grade or a mean comment from my mom. I panic when a stranger tries to speak to me and I burst into tears when I answer a question wrong in class. I cry over everything and here I am, crying, again. I need to stop. I need to do homework. I need to read two books and submit three calculus assignments and write a well crafted essay before 11:55 EST. I need to text my friend back. I need to stop avoiding making plans. But I can’t. I can’t do anything. So I put on headphones. Music drowning out my thoughts helps, sometimes. I can’t think as well with the music blasting. All the horrible things in my brain tend to fall apart, unformed, less threatening when they’re not fully equipped with my hyperactive imagination. I lay on my bed. I want to sleep. If I sleep, I’ll feel better, I tell myself.

But the next day is always worse. I wake up empty. My eyes are red, puffy. I put on makeup to feel pretty but I feel hollow. I get dressed to be presentable but I’m a wreck. My heart is deflated, it does not feel like it can possibly pump enough blood to circulate through my arms and legs. My lungs cannot supply enough oxygen to my brain, I am sure of it. I am half alive. I wonder if my organs were scraped from my body last night, taken from me. This is not how a human should feel.

My motivation feels weaker than my body. It is not laziness. It is not procrastination. It is total, consuming inability. I can barely move from my bed. I cannot sit at my desk. I can’t fathom doing homework. I cannot make myself care. My hands feel restless but my brain is numb. Sentences fall, unfinished, from my mind. Even without the music blasting like the night before, I cannot process what I want to think. Everything feels cloudy, foggy, like I am just learning a language and cannot translate every word of a sentence. I try to answer texts but stare at my phone screen for long minutes before turning it off again. I do not know what to say any more than I know what to think.

My mom tells me I am wasting time by sleeping. I’ve been in bed too long, she says. I should wake up earlier, she chides. But she does not know I am here because I cannot move. Friends tell me I am behind in school work. I know I am. But I cannot do it now. I do not have a brain to do it with; I am only half alive, after all. The homework is due tonight, they say. But this is not about avoiding my responsibilities. This is about being utterly incapable of facing them. I am dedicated and passionate when I am well. But, right now, I cannot find those qualities within me. I am sick.

I have a brain that quits sometimes. A brain that is irrational, that cannot process things and keep the significance of events in their proper magnitude. I imagine one bad grade, one bad day, ruining my future. I see my dreams crumble around me, I feel my existence decay to dust. It does not cause me to panic. Instead, I become numb. I stop picturing my future when I am afraid it is ruined. I pretend I am dead, I pretend my life will not stretch beyond the next day’s sunrise. I lose hope and I lose interest in having hope.

Days like this happen less than they used to. I once spent weeks in bed because everything felt grey, everything felt insurmountable. I once went months without feeling like I could function normally. Now a few hours haunt me. I live normally, I am healthy, mostly, with short bouts of grayness. A few days maybe, not a week. I have grown. But it does not mean what I am trying to do isn’t incredibly difficult. I am trying to manage a healthy person’s schedule without the resource of a healthy brain. I am not ignoring my responsibilities. I am not bad at managing time. I am simply hoping I have the wherewithal tomorrow to handle what my brain could not today. I will not apologize for suffering from depression. I will not make excuses for bad grades when I am handed them. It is not my fault I didn’t do work yesterday. It is not my fault I couldn’t sleep and it is not my fault I spent three years of my life trying to be healthy instead of learning an ancient language. I’ll be better one day, but right now, recovery takes my time and my focus. When I have no energy for school, for friendships, for life, it is simply because I spent it all trying to stay alive.

Perspective on Senior Year

By Allison.

How do seniors have time to lead rational lives? I’ve had too much homework, too many essays, and too few hours of sleep since school started. I have three jobs and three bosses who don’t seem to understand my life doesn’t revolve around their scheduling needs. I have six classes, all of which seem to think answering every single question in their respective textbooks is a reasonable amount of homework. I’m applying to seven colleges who think demanding three essays for their university alone is manageable amount of writing to require.

Do people who accomplish all of this actually sleep, or eat, or sometimes hang out with friends? I’m three hundred pages behind in reading because I spent an afternoon with my mom instead of finishing a novel. I’m falling behind in my homework because I’m posting this instead of doing physics problems.

I spend most nights trying to figure out how much I need to do before I pass out from exhaustion, because there’s always more to do. I could make a list, but I would spend time writing the actual list that could be better used to actually finish one of those assignments.

It’s irrational. I’m losing sleep and I cry every few days. I keep fighting with my mom because I’m stressed. I’ve lost touch with some friends because I keep forgetting to text them.

But I’m also learning more than I ever have. I wake up knowing I’ll learn more, knowing I’ll do something I’ve never previously done. Each day of work I pick up new skills, and each class teaches me something different. My faith has grown; how could it not, when I know I cannot humanely accomplish all that’s before me?

So, yeah, it’s stressful, I’m tired, and I’m only a few weeks into a months long journey.

And maybe I’m crazy, but I love it.