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Disney World, Busch Gardens, Legoland, Adventure Island: for most teenagers in Florida, the roller coasters are what attract them to the amusement parks. Most of the time, I love roller coasters, but junior year is not a roller coaster any teenager should take lightly.

On August 12th, 2018, I started my junior year journey, and it was the most stressful year yet. Stress from procrastination and a lack or organization plagued my thoughts as I struggled to survive.

Fast forward to the last day of school, May 30th, 2019: I am glad it’s over.

From challenging myself with three APs, one DE, leadership positions, a job, and an internship, I can say that even though the highs and lows of junior year were incredibly challenging, they have been worth it in the end. Challenges, like junior year, are what refine students into the best people they will ever be.

At the beginning of the year, I wasn’t used to so much pressure from extracurriculars.

I tried to stay organized with a planner, but I would still be stressed out at the last minute. Instead of being motivated, for example, to open up my AP Biology prep book to study for the next test, I would tell myself to study later (anyone who has taken AP Procrastination knows that “later” means never).

As assignments piled up, my motivation plummeted. While my grades were fine, I was the most depressed I’ve ever been.

Once I hit rock bottom, the only way to go was up. Instead of trying to force material into my brain, I found fun alternatives. Reading is one of my favorite hobbies, so I found a way to connect it with my AP Language and Composition class.

When I got an email from the National English Honor Society detailing a competition, I decided to pick up a book I’ve had on my “to read” shelf and prepared for the Intellectual Freedom Challenge.

I was juggling quite a bit, but I thought I would give it a shot and see if I could win $100. I might have procrastinated and wrote the essay on the day it was due, but my essay on The Hate U Give was one of the best I’ve ever written. Receiving the check in the mail a few months later showed me that I could be successful.

If I put effort and time into developing something I thought was impossible, I could do anything else. “Natural talent” doesn’t exist, only hard work and dedication.

I’m not going to lie, junior year was incredibly challenging.

On some days, I would have so much to do that I would fall asleep and use my stack of homework as a pillow. I wish the genie from Aladdin granted me three wishes, but suffering through the pain allowed for me to come out on the other side as a motivated student.

Hopefully senior year won’t be as stressful once I take the SAT or the ACT.

As long as you have the motivation and determination to succeed, you can do anything you set your mind to. To quote Walt Disney, “If you can visualize it, if you can dream it, there’s some way to do it.”