Try walking through the hallways of Millburn High School just listening to what’s going on. I guarantee that you will hear some form of complaining about stress. It’s clear that studying is terrible. We don’t enjoy doing it and there are literally a million things we would rather focus on. It’s clear that homework is terrible. We don’t enjoy doing it and there are literally a million things we would rather focus on. It’s clear that school in general is terrible. We don’t enjoy doing it and there are literally a million things we would rather focus on. What I have noticed is that complaining about school is far too easy. Constantly being surrounded by negative opinions of school from both my head and from others simply became too much for me around midterms. I realized, if school is actually this bad, then why do we all even bother working so hard?
I know the justification we are all given for why this “crazy” work will pay off is college, but that wasn’t enough to properly motivate me. College is just school again, which brings me back to why school matters in the first place. As a sophomore, I know that I cannot sustain my current work without figuring out what’s the true point of school. What I reasoned is that MHS does not really teach us the information we note on a day to day basis. We will all forget that in a short enough amount of time. What MHS teaches us is how to have that crazy level of diligence to the point where we are capable of pulling all nighters and putting our happiness temporarily on hold for what we decided is success.
We are trained to make the choice to put ourselves through so much stress when it really doesn’t matter so that when it does matter in the working world, we will have that ability. Think about it this way. Right before midterms, many of us were bombarded with tests in subjects that we would have exams in the following week. Yes, it wasn’t fair and I was so stressed I wanted to pull my hair out at frustration for how unjust it all was. In the real world, we will inevitably face days where we are forced to do some things we don’t believe are right for the sake of complying with the system. Of course it’s not fair, yet no one’s asking you to suffer forever. Only for a short period of time, so that you can actually see your work pay off. The stress that comes from school doesn’t teach us the direct information, it truly is how the push ourselves beyond the limit of what we’re comfortable with or believe we have the capacity to do. Because with the kind of stress we create in Millburn, there’s no choice but to push yourself beyond your reasonable breaking point. That’s what will truly make us successful. That crazy discipline that will aid us in our real lives could not have been created any other way. The point is not everyone in the workforce will have what Millburn gave to us, even though it seems that way right now. While I don’t believe teachers or students knowing create stress for this reason, it is the prevalent side effect. The ability to push ourselves even though we don’t enjoy doing it and there are literally a million things we would rather focus on.
The negative medical effects of the levels of stress we experience have been proven many times over. I’m not trying to make a medical argument. What I’m trying to do is rationalize what seems like an irrational system. There’s no way this system that causes students distress, as opposed to a more healthy level of eustress, would still exist if it wasn’t doing something right. What it’s doing right is preparing us for what truly matters. And no, what truly matters isn’t just college. There’s more than that, and with what we have learned here, hopefully we will be better equipped to create our own successes as professionals.