A Word of Encouragement

As we have now fully entered second semester, there is undoubtedly a new and exciting feeling in the air here at SHA. Midterms are finally over, it’s the start of a fresh year, and I’m sure we all feel like we now have a chance to breathe. The start of a new semester can be a relief to some, and overwhelming to others. This might be a time that you’ve really started to beat yourself up for how you previously performed, or it might be a time that you recognize what you failed to do, and make the agreement with yourself to do better.

While there is no exact formula to calming your nerves, or rebooting your motivation and perseverance, there are some things that I have learned during my three years at SHA that have helped me tremendously. Freshman and Sophomore year I strived so hard to keep a perfect academic record, and the thought of even getting a B would crush me. However, as I progressed in my studies, I started to realize that if I’m constantly getting A’s, I might not be challenged enough. I started to look at C’s or B’s as a sign that I have some more work to do, and I saw it as an opportunity to grow.

This year was my first time ever failing a midterm. The feelings of defeat that come along with failure can quickly become the catalyst to a complete loss of self worth. At first, I fell to this reality, but as I have matured during my high school career, I’ve learned to remind myself to take a step back and recognize all that I work so hard for, instead of just my one setback.

My first tip of advice if you didn’t do so well on midterms or first semester, is to forgive yourself. The key to improvement isn’t to infiltrate your mind with negative self-talk. I think the most common mindset as a Freshman or Sophomore is that one mistake is the end of the world. This catastrophic thinking is what held me back from so many things that contributed to both my academics and my own happiness. After you have forgiven yourself, it’s important to look at your performance subjectively, without any bias. Maybe ask a friend if they noticed certain flaws within your study habits, or ask a teacher where they think you struggle. Once you can look at your situation without attaching negative or judgmental opinions, you can truly begin to move on and advance.

My second tip of advice for second semester has less to do with academics and more to do with your own well being. Before you can ever properly perform in school, it’s important that you receive the support and care you need in order to thrive. I think a lot of times, we love to be independent and headstrong. While these are positive traits, they can cross over a fine line into being unhealthy ways of coping with stress.

One of the biggest things I had to learn during my time here at SHA is how to ask for help when I need it. It’s so crucial to understand that sometimes, you can’t do everything alone. The fear of needing help often makes us think that nobody is willing to support or guide us, or that the school wouldn’t be able to aid us at all. Actually, the exact opposite is true. There are so many resources within this school community that are welcoming you with open arms, you just have to be ready to accept the help.

So, this second semester, if you’re struggling to handle your schedule, or dealing with personal burdens, take a break and talk with somebody. If that means going to guidance for a couple minutes, do it. If that means confiding in a favorite teacher, do it. If that means simply telling a friend what’s been going on, do it. If it means going to the school chapel during break, sacrifice that time for some peace of mind. There’s no way to make all the confusion or stress of life disappear, but there are ways to help manage it.

Finally, as you continue into the last moments of your freshman, sophomore, junior, or senior year, my concluding tip is to enjoy the present. Yes, make time to study, make time for sports, make time for extracurriculars, but also make sure to make some time for friends, social events, and for being a regular high-schooler. This stage in our lives as teenagers is all about balance, which doesn’t come naturally or easily, but once you find it, it can make everything worth it.