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How to Escape the High School Trap

How to Escape the High School Trap


What is high school to me?

High school is the tedious, energy-draining, and detrimental four years that will rob a good portion of my youth. Each new day, that mocking alarm jerks me awake, indicating that it’s time to spend seven hours in a building full of sleep deprived, irritable adolescents. It’s torture.

This is what I would have told you a year ago. These days, I can tell you that I am not in that awful position anymore. Here’s how I changed my life for the better—even in the face of an impossible challenge like high school.

I got tired of having such a depressing outlook on life. I realized that I wasn’t just upset with my own mundane high school experience; I was upset with what I was surrounded by. I was tired of people pursuing extracurriculars just to enhance their college apps. I was sick of people letting busywork, standardized test scores, and GPAs define their worth and keep them from recognizing how much true potential they have. 

On New Year’s Day, I had a revelation: as high schoolers, we were severely lacking in something. And that something was zeal.

Zeal, a criminally underused word, means to have great energy or enthusiasm in pursuit of a cause or an objective (shoutout to the dictionary!). Zeal used to be nothing more than an SAT vocab word to me. Today, zeal is the reason I wake up in the morning. It even inspired to me to start my own organization called—yep—GenerationZeal, which aims to share what I’ve learned with others. It is the reason that I am genuinely happy. Zeal is my source of positivity and motivation. 

Now, standardized test scores and GPAs, while still important to me, don’t rule my self-worth. I have interests and goals that are more personal and important to me; I genuinely love to pursue these things every day. A year ago, I became interested in computer science, so I took a computer science class in school. Before long, I ended up being more focused on my grade in the class rather than what I was actually learning; this made it incredibly frustrating. Now, I teach computer science to young children and I absolutely love doing it. There are no numbers or ranks, so I am simply doing it because I am passionate about it.

Zeal has given me essential perspective. The only thing I want more than being passionate for the rest of my life is to spread this very message to the world, so others can experience the same elation. 

After having all these revelations, what does high school mean to me now? I realize it's a challenging time in our lives, and there's just no getting around that. We’ll inevitably be disheartened, bored, and frustrated. But like any other challenge, it can be overcome. Finding yourself is the most important thing you can do, but in my experience, finding zeal isn’t far from it.

By Shuba Prasadh, 16

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