When you are a high school student, the concept of “rest” ceases to exist

Whatever happened to Saturdays and Sundays being “resting” days and not “catch-up” days? 

I am sitting here in my room, writing this piece at 8:03 PM on a Sunday night, while completely trying to avoid the plethora of work I still have to do in order to pass my classes. And yet this entire weekend, instead of studying for my Physics retake, or completing my missing Yearbook spreads, or even tidying up my room a little bit, I decided to take most of the weekend off to rest. 

But why did I feel so guilty? 

Yes, I am well aware that it is completely antithetical to be relaxing during what’s probably going to be the most important week of my life in my entire academic career. Yes, I am also well aware that procrastination only hurts me in the long run. But this year has been so exhausting for me, physically, mentally, and emotionally, that at some point, I have no other option but to just stop what I am doing entirely and rest. Even then, when I do decide it is time for a break, the voice in the back of my head tells me I could be doing something more, that I am wasting my time doing nothing when I could be turning that nothing into something. 

As high school students and soon-to-be members of the workforce, we are conditioned to believe that if are not using our time to be studying, or doing homework, or selling our souls to Collegeboard for a sliver of AP credit, that when we are wasting our time, our grades will subsequently suffer, and therefore we won’t get into college and will end up dirt-poor on the streets. 

But I feel that we cannot hold ourselves to such unrealistic standards. Oftentimes the people and the situations we are comparing ourselves to are only snapshots of a person’s accomplishments”

But I feel that we cannot hold ourselves to such unrealistic standards. Oftentimes the people and the situations we are comparing ourselves to are only snapshots of a person’s accomplishments; they only show the end goal, not the process behind it. Therefore, in order for us to feel less guilty about our own achievements, we have to take into account perspective – yes they worked extremely hard, but they are also human. Humans have lives outside of their work; you are just as entitled to a life outside of school too.

Additionally, I feel that it is also important for us to stop consuming content that makes us want to diminish our self-worth and our accomplishments if we want to feel less guilty about where we stand. That one student you saw on an Instagram with a 4.9 GPA, 1600 SAT, and found a cure to cancer?  Those types of students are rare. Extraordinary, but rare nonetheless. Colleges will not even compare you to those kinds of students anyways – it is all about how competitive you are within your demographic

Even then, working for longer periods of time with less efficiency is an extremely outdated concept, and this concept can be applied to the way we study for important tests. Passive studying techniques like reading notes for hours on end are not really that effective, anyways. According to UNC, studying for only an hour with active recall techniques like the Pomordoro method are much more efficient usages of time. 

So if you find yourself before finals worrying that you are not doing as much as your peers to prepare – don’t feel bad about it. It’s totally normal to want to rest. Chances are, you are better off taking that nap or getting some sunshine anyways.