You Don’t Have to Work Yourself to Death

Jay recounts her time at Academy–“take a breath, you’ll be fine.”

Academy culture is staying up until three in the morning to go the extra mile on homework, to prepare for the million clubs you’re a part of, or to allow a little time for yourself after you’re finally done with all your work, then bragging about how little sleep you got the next day. It is expected of us to be overachievers, to be the best. I am also guilty of pushing myself past my limits. But, it doesn’t need to be this way.

As a middle schooler, I was killing myself with all my work. When COVID hit freshman year and I spent my sophomore year in my bedroom, I realized I hadn’t been living much outside school. I was stuck alone. No plans, no adventures, and no reason to use my newly-earned driver’s license. I knew I had to learn how to balance school, practice, work, and fun. Once it was safe to go out again, I am happy to say that I did. Even if I had homework, I watched movies, played games, and went out to eat with my family. I may have regretted it later when I was doing homework during my free periods or late at night, but I survived. My grades didn’t take a huge hit, and my life didn’t spin out of control. It’s all about balance: the way you balance your schoolwork and home life translates to the rest of your life.

I imagined myself at 45. When I come home after a long time at work, what’s there waiting for me? Do I find time to create a life for myself, outside of my work? Can I relax? This is how I defined success for myself. For me, it’s not money or power. It’s leaving something behind.

Believe me, I know it’s hard to find balance. It’s hard to let go. Of course, you still need to put effort into passing your classes and getting things done at your job. You have to find it in yourself to not go off the rails completely. The most important thing to remember as you go on is this: school is only a small part of your life. Someday, when you’re surrounded by people you love and the life you’ve built, the grade you got on a calculus test in your senior year of high school won’t matter– you won’t even remember it. You will, however, remember the way you found your people throughout your life and the stupid things you did in your twenties that you would rather not talk about. To my fellow seniors, underclassmen, and anyone else reading this: take a breath– you’ll be fine.