Among the many valedictorians living off instant coffee and the constant pressure that you may never achieve your dreams because of a three digit number, it’s easy to forget that you have other options besides living just to work yourself to death.
Last year, I realized that spending an average of nine hours per day in an artificially-lit building didn’t make me happy. I loved being outside, but I didn’t have time for it.
Between my school assignments, theatre commitments and basic human obligations (sleeping, eating, showering), I had few moments where I felt like I didn’t have anything I should be doing. I was stressed. I was sad. But honestly, I wasn’t the only person fed up with the monotony of my current school experience.
I am lucky to attend CHS—one of the best public schools in the state. However, like all public schools, it has institutionalized issues: cramped bell schedules, large teacher-to-student ratios, and students struggling to find their niche. Most students manage to bite their tongue, make it through four years, and then move on to do the things they actually wanted to spend their time on.
I started to think something was wrong with me. The daily routine of things that I didn’t even enjoy started to drive me crazy. Why do I have to spend four years of my life stuck in a perpetual groundhog day?
The truth is, I didn’t. So I decided to apply to the Outdoor Academy, located in the mountains of North Carolina. I did it to mix things up, experience something new, and more importantly, to do something I was afraid of.
The thought of waking up every morning to a mountaintop sunrise started to become less of a pipe-dream and more of a quickly-approaching reality. I was thrilled to be in smaller, more specialized classes with an environmental focus.
Admittedly, the reality of spending four months with “the world being my classroom” (as advertised) was incredibly daunting, but the problem with my life in public school is that I wasn’t doing anything that scared me. Honestly, what scared me probably more than anything else was the idea of not doing what everyone else was doing.
The typical high school culture creates mountains out of molehills instead of actually just climbing the mountains. We place value on numbers and scores and grades and not on real, genuine experiences.
Public school is not for everyone, and the simple truth is this: just because everyone is doing it doesn’t mean it is the best option. Non-traditional types of schooling may be better for certain students. Don’t push yourself to settle for something that may not be for you.
If you’re tired of worrying about the molehills, it might be time to find your mountain.