One of the most stressful times of my life was during my senior year of high school. Everything I did that year (and also the majority of high school career) can essentially be boiled down to me posturing to show my best side to the colleges I was applying. My life revolved around my academic and societal appearance so that I had the best chance to get into my dream schools.
I spent more time studying that I did with friends, stopped playing video games, stopped going to movies, stopped playing music, and stopped taking care of my health. My physical health deteriorated as well as my emotional health. Despite all this, I was able to get into a few of my dream schools – but I don’t think it was worth the stress that I put myself through.
I believe that one of the most important parts of the application process is that you maintain a center on yourself that is who you really are. Don’t try to paint yourself to be better than you are or push yourself to do more than you can. This doesn’t just apply to the application process either – it’s important to maintain a balance in any endeavor.
You only have one body and one mind. It’s important that you take care of both. Sure, your future prospects in college have a significant impact on both, but that impact is mitigated or entirely lost if you destroy yourself in the process.
I noticed how imbalanced I was toward the end of my high school senior year. Even though I noticed that something was wrong, I still find myself imbalanced now, four years later. The habits I formed in my junior and senior years are hard to break, and while they’ve led to amazing opportunities, I’m really beginning to feel the toll they’ve placed on my back.
If any of this seems familiar to you, here are some things you can do to re-position yourself. I’ve done them, and while I can still improve, I’m much better than I was four years ago.
Get enough sleep – This seems simple, but getting a solid 7-9 hours of sleep every night (at night) will do wonders for you. It feels weird at first, but eventually you’ll feel less tired and have more energy.
Eat a healthy diet – It doesn’t have to be the perfect diet. I cheat all the time. But it does need to include vegetables and fruit. Potatoes do not count as vegetables. I would eat red meat and potatoes all the time. It left me feeling bloated, even when I ate less. Fruits and veggies are good for your digestion, so make sure to have some every meal.
Talk to someone – Your mental well-being is just as important as your physical. If you have doubts about anything in your life, it will help to find someone to talk with. That person can be anyone – parents, friends, siblings, or even your school counselor. Hotlines exist for you to call when you feel boxed in a corner. Use these resources. Even if you don’t think they will help, doing it will lift a little weight off your shoulders.
Remember to take of yourself – it’s much easier to get into good habits when you’re young. Start making changes in high school to better your own personal balance. You won’t regret it.
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