Under normal circumstances, high school might be stressful, but it appears to be considerably more so in today’s pandemic. One of the best ways to handle the stress that comes with 4 years of high school, or just life in general, is with a good support system. Teachers, counselors, and other professionals are one level of support that is important. However, a decent set of friends is the finest resource for the day-to-day stress, such as the “I forgot my lunch” or “Oh no, the test is TODAY?” tension that is a regular part of life. You do not necessarily need a huge group of friends, having a few great ones can get you through almost anything. Just being able to talk or complain (as it usually happens) to helps more than you think. Hearing things like “finish my Doritos” (Jo) or “I hate when they do that too” or “that sounds horrible, you want a hug?” coming from a friend can make the burdens easier to carry; can make the day seem a lot less terrible.
I asked a few of my friends some questions about if they really think they would have gotten through life so far, or even just school, without having the friends that they did. The answer in all their cases was along the lines of “yes, BUT I would have been miserable (Romina)” or “yes, BUT I would have probably given up by now (Lily)”. They all said that they probably would have tried to do the same things, played the same sports, or took the same classes, but that they might’ve given up halfway, completely opposite to what they do now with friends’ support. Another thing that I brought up was some things that your friends do that kind of keep you going. In Lily’s case, she said, “They check up on me all the time, they care about my interests like watching the same movies even if it’s not what they would usually do, they come to my games and they support me through school and home.” Sometimes life is hard; your parents are against you, your teachers are burying you in homework, sports are draining your energy, but for some reason as soon as you see your friends in the bleachers or walking down the hall or even at Target, you just feel like a weight was lifted off your shoulders and everything is going to be ok.
Partly because school takes up a lot of our time, I’m going to focus on that for a minute. A lot of us are taking APs and pretty much every single person in the senior class right now is applying to colleges. Things are hard, nights are stressful, so what brings you make to school every day? Romina told me, “We suffer together, it’s easier to come to school when you know that you’re not alone”. In their case, it’s the sense of unity that having friends brings, it’s the idea that we are all struggling together so that no one is left out alone in the cold. In Jo’s case, she believes that coming to school with no friends would cause her grades to plummet due to the lack of being able to express both her accomplishments and sorrows with another person. Being able to surround herself with a group of people that care about her academically, physically, and emotionally lifts a big weight off her. She mentioned that “I don’t have to spend all of my energy towards my mental health AND academics because my friends take some of the stress off my shoulders”. School is hard in itself, add extracurriculars and work on top of that and one could say that it’s impossible to keep up, but when you have friends to push you along, there’s always someone to keep you on the straight and narrow.
Amid a nervous breakdown, you call your friends; after you win States, you call your friends; before your first job interview, you call your friends; when you break up with your boyfriend/girlfriend you call your friends. During both the toughest and also the best moments of your life, you call your friends, but have you ever wondered why? Romina said this to me and it kind of struck a chord, no matter how cheesy it may sound. I asked her who has kept her sane throughout the past 4-5 years, and she responded with, “My friends, hands down, because they’re my found family, we are all struggling together, and I know no one is going to give up on me and I won’t give up on them”. Friends are there no matter what and they keep you going just as much as you keep them going. I’m not going to say I didn’t cry when I wrote this because then I would be lying, but I think this is such an important thing for people to realize, especially during high school; that if you did not have a good group of friends to support you, to make you smile, you wouldn’t feel motivated to do anything, but the fact that you DO is what gets you up every morning, what keeps you sane in this insane world.