Thursday, January 17, 2013

Stop Studying Strife

Here's where I have to apologize, blog. I apologize because unfortunately, my life did not come equipped with a prepackaged Venter. No, I don't mean a venter as in one who vents or even one who repairs vents. I mean a Venter as in someone who will pretend to listen to me as I roll around the couch in a fit of spasms, complaining like the incessant preschooler that I am that school is too hard and my teachers are out to get me and that John F. stole my juice box during snack time. So, when times (and juice rations) are tough, I turn to you. Because unlike my parents or my friends or the stranger waiting at the bus stop, you have to listen to me. And for that, you have my deepest apologies.

Prepare yourselves, now. Because here comes the venting.

I hate school. I hate it. And when I say I hate school, I don't mean that I hate learning. If I hated learning, I wouldn't be subscribed to such amazing educational channels on YouTube like CrashCourse, SciShow, CGPGrey, and TheBrainScoop. If I hated learning, I wouldn't go near beautiful classics like Gatsby and Catcher in the Rye and The Adventures of Hunkleberry--ehem. I mean... Huckleberry Finn. If I hated learning, I'd invest more of my time watching marathons of the Jersey Shore. No, I hate school.

I hate the way it's forced down students' throats and the way adults overemphasize its importance.
You want to get into a Good College? Better do well in high school.
You want to get a job? Better do well in high school.
You want to overthrow the Chinese emperor? Better do well in high school.
You want to grow up to be Kim Possible? Better do well in high school.
You want to live a good, long life, surrounded by loving friends, and eventually come to find true happiness and self-fulfillment? BETTERDOWELLINHIGHSCHOOLTROLOLOLOL.

This week, I've experienced first hand the pressure to do well in school, and the toll it takes--emotionally, mentally, and physically. I've never struggled too much with school up until this year, my junior year. I was a good student: never turned assignments in late, did well on exams, never, never slipped below a 90. But you see, if sophomore year is the equivalent of someone punching you in the face, then junior year is like someone punching you in the face, kicking you in the groin, attacking you with a weed whacker and then blocking tumblr on your computer (because that would be the toughest blow of all).

You have to understand that it's a teenager's job to be a student just like it's that adult's job to be a lawyer or waiter or to scoop elephant dung. While it's not technically the focus of their life, you HAVE to be good at it otherwise you're considered a failure. One bad grade and a student's world is thrown into turmoil. Please consider, for example, this true to life reenactment:
Regular student, Sally S. Normal, sat in her Algebra II class on a weekday like any other. Little did she know the danger that lurked under the stack of tests that rested on her teacher's desk. Her teacher picked up the stack and moved menacingly down the aisle, slamming test after test in front of Sally's classmates. Some let out excited squeals or sighs of relief, while others hung their head in silence, soaking in the shame and misery brought on by their own inadequacy. Sally's test loomed face-down on her desk. Did she dare turn it over? Nightmares of the disappointed looks on her parents' faces, weeks without the internet or her cellphone, and worst of all: hours of extra credit work all rushed into her imagination. With a trembling hand, Sally turned the papers over, praying for an A or even a B+. Her insides twisted violently as she stared at the D that lay before her. Sally's fists grasped at the air as she looked up, cursing the heavens, and let out the long, tired plea of misery and frustration well-known among high-schoolers everywhere. "NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!"

Rather like Sally, I had to deal with an earth-shattering bad test grade recently. If you've ever shared in Sally's and my struggle, you know how awful it feels. You feel inadequate and just not good enough in general. Unlovable, a disappointment, a waste of time and space--it's so easy to call yourself these things after a failure. We get caught up in the enormity that school is at this point in our lives. But in reality, one bad test grade, or even failing a class, isn't as big a deal as we think it is. So what if you forgot what the Emancipation Proclamation is or how to graph quadratic equations? I'm not saying that these things aren't important, and it is true that knowing them would benefit you in some way or another (even if it isn't clear how while you're shlepping your way through 3 chapters of Chemistry). But don't destroy yourself over school. And no matter how cheesy it sounds, the important thing is trying hard. And here's the thing: doing well and trying hard are not the same thing. If you have one especially troubling subject (*cough*mathisofthedevil*cough*), or if you just can't learn as easily as everyone else, that's fine, but you giving up isn't doing yourself any good. Stick it out for a couple more years, because the times are coming when you won't have to worry about grades or report cards or tests (at least not the kind you're used to now).

Have I just transitioned this rant into some kind of It Gets Better advert? Dear goodness. Why must I be so incapable of sustained fury? I'm just gonna go listen to some Hank Green rage songs.

1 comment:

  1. I totally understand your pain. My biggest complaint right now is I'm going off to college next fall and I have filled out a million scholarship applications. The thing scholarship application seem to focus the most on is extra circular activities which I'm in none. Does that mean I sit around and do nothing. absolutely not. I do tons of community service instead of being in a sport that I'm not good at. Scholarships don't understand that I'm just trying to get some money to go to school. It is disappointing to be turned down for every single scholarship I have applied for and knowing that I'm going to be in debt way over my head by the time I graduate from college.

    I have been trying so hard to get a 24 on my ACT which I'm guessing if you live in the U.S. you will be taking soon. I just got my 2nd 22 in November and it was the worst I have ever felt in my life. I felt like I had failed. I get pretty good grades, but I'm not the greatest test taker, but that doesn't matter to the ACT and colleges to them you are just a number and money in their pockets. My quest to get a higher education has been met with many challenges and has really made me feel like a failure just like you said. I want to go college so I will do whatever it takes to get me there. I am not a failure and I'm more than a test score.