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From Surviving to Thriving in High School

Student Life

High school is a myriad of mixed emotions. Students usually go into high school thinking they will enjoy the last years in school. However, it is still a big transition – not just academically, but socially and psychologically too. Though a few might not be affected by these, many would go through a tough time handling and overcoming problems aside from academic pressure. This makes many look at high school as a chore rather than a place of new expectations and experiences, which often leads them to say, “yeah, surviving through high school is enough.” This makes them restrict themselves from believing that they can do much more and that they can thrive rather than just survive.

Surviving vs. Thriving?

There is a significant difference between surviving and thriving. The former means doing what is necessary or expected to barely get by, while the latter means putting in a consistent effort to progress while constantly challenging yourself to be the best version of you.

Students frequently face many challenges which make them think of barely surviving rather than thriving. Common challenges faced by students at school can be put under four broad categories: stress or anxiety, balancing academic and social life, staying motivated, and dealing with negative thoughts.

As a result of these difficulties, many will just try to survive through school, and only some will become familiar with the art of thriving. Here are some research-based techniques as a response to the four challenges which young people can adopt in order to succeed in school through learning how to transform their experience of surviving to thriving.

Stress or anxiety

This is pretty common because of the high expectations placed on students to achieve academic excellence and live up to social expectations which leads to stress. To overcome or reduce stress:

a. Check up on yourself

  • Try to engage in physical exercises often in school. Identify a sport that you enjoy and use it as your stress-relief activity.
  • Try to find and maintain healthy relationships around you both in and out of school by staying focused on your goals and building a support system.
  • Apart from having people around, also try spending some time alone with yourself to sort out different thoughts which won’t happen unless you are alone.

b. Get good sleep

  • Try to plan and be consistent with your sleeping schedule. This will help you get a clear and relaxed mind to be more productive.
  • Although it may seem cool to say things like “oh I didn’t sleep last night” under the excuse of studies or having fun, with the hectic morning schedule of most high school students, it’s important to take a rest for your mind to function well and not fall sick.

c. Be organized to avoid procrastination

  • I'll be honest, being a high school student myself, procrastination is normal. With the amount of different things happening at the same time, we tend to think "I'll do my homework later." and this ‘later’ will end up being a day before the deadline.
  • Sorting out your work on a priority list is a great lifesaver when it comes to procrastination. This will help you know what and when you should do something and helps you break down the work-load.

Balancing academic and social life

This is also a struggle that competes with school life like sports, social activities, entertainment and so on. The following are a few strategies through which both requirements can be fulfilled well:

a. Keep a daily/weekly planner – Write down what you want to do every day/week to help keep track of your goals and if you're achieving them or if you need to change your schedule accordingly.

b. Talk to others – Reach out to people for help when needed, including friends, family, teachers, classmates, etc.

c. Know that it's alright to say NO – You don't need to give up a study or an event for one another if it’s important to you.

Staying motivated

The struggle to maintain a consistent passion and motivation to do what you love is often caused by failures or outcomes which divert from expectations. Many teens find this a challenge if they are unable to get good scores, if they don't qualify for a sports team, if they are unable to win in a competition, etc. Being able to accept failures by developing confidence and self-esteem are key attributes to staying motivated. A few helpful tips to feel motivated could include:

a. Taking breaks – When you think you are slowly losing motivation to do something, take a break from it rather than forcing yourself to do it. Sometimes, doing the same thing again and again may seem boring and it's alright to try something new while taking a break from the previous one.

b. Journaling – Writing down and keeping track of your interests and why you like them could help you remember why you started it in the first place. This will help you re-think your choices of quitting anything you enjoyed.

Dealing with negative Thoughts

This is a common human tendency for people of all ages. Not every day is sunshine and daisies. Difficult days are a part of life, but they shouldn't shift your mind towards negativity. Giving specific tips on how to get a positive mindset doesn't really work, because people deal with overcoming negativity in their own ways.

Developing a growth mindset can be a start to dealing with negativity, i.e. it's about taking constructive feedback, learning from mistakes, and coming up with your own strategies to improve. It's about believing that even if you fail, you can still improve. This can be done by focusing on yourself and ignoring the factors that could bring you down.

Conclusion

Although society has many expectations on high school students to do well in their studies and to be socially active, it's okay to feel exhausted, it's okay to say you're tired. Societal opinions are the last thing that should be on your mind to stop you from expressing yourself. It is very well understood that there are so many things to keep up with in life that doing the same over and over again starts to get really boring.

However, at the same time, high school is that period in your life which can also shape you as a whole and it's important to embrace and enjoy it to the best you can. Before trying to make things around you better, putting effort into building yourself is the first step to making school life better, and that is exactly what this article is about.

Finally, I hope this helps you get a better picture of how to start thriving in high school and not just survive through it.

Khyati N
5,000+ pageviews

Khyati is a high school student. She enjoys reading books—mainly mystery and fantasy novels. In her free time, you can find her watching movies, anime or playing sports.