by Professor Rebecca Hasegawa
It is your last semester of high school. You wake up. It is a school day, and that realization fills you with dread. You just want to sleep, play hooky, do nothing. Nevertheless, you trudge to school. In class, your eyes sag as you fight the oncoming nap. You know you should not sleep in school, but the desire is so overwhelming. Any interest in learning that once inhabited your mind has flown away since Senior year began. Being physically present takes every ounce of will power – forget about mental presence. Your mind is elsewhere, dreaming of the great beyond. Although you are only thinking about you, everyone in class with you feels exactly like you do. You all are succumbing to that mysterious malady of the spirit – senioritis. And the only known cure is graduation.
Senioritis is not exclusive to teenagers. College seniors struggle with it. Adults transitioning from an awful job to a better one feel it. Even senior citizens on the verge of retirement experience it. The only age group that seems immune to senioritis is small children. Being in a constant state of learning and playing makes life exciting and interesting. By the time we are 17 or 18, our hormones overshadow any need to learn. By the time we are 21 or 22, learning is a burden that we cannot wait to be rid of. By the time we are 30 or 31, learning becomes necessary again because we realize how little we actually know. From there, we either continue learning by seeking new challenges, or we plateau because we’ve forgotten how to learn. By the time we are 69 or 70, we are just ready to relax and enjoy hobbies and grandkids.
It appears that learning to deal with senioritis now will also pay off later. So, how can we learn to thrive despite the inevitability of senioritis?
Senioritis starts when our brains realize that transition and change are coming. Change can be terrifying or it can be liberating. If we fear change, then we want to shut down and ignore it – cue senioritis. If we embrace change, then we start daydreaming about the change and wishing it would just come already – cue senioritis. If science class has taught us anything it is this: adapt or die. Before we can adapt we have to have a bit of self-awareness. Recognize how you as an individual respond to change, and dialogue with yourself or someone who knows you really well about your anxieties, your expectations, your hopes, your plans. The sooner you can learn to adapt well to change, the better off you will be for the rest of life. You cannot live life without experiencing a series of changes from beginning to end.
Children find all kinds of things interesting and wonderful. Kids are curious and playful. Kids know how to have real fun. Senioritis is wicked, though, because it not only steals our soul, it steals our joy! Once we are debilitated, all we can do is survive it. But what if we want to thrive amidst it? That will take more gumption. It will take our imaginations and creativity. This may take some determination, but do not force it. We cannot force wonder, but we can foster it. Put yourself in inspiring environments. If you are an artist, then be around artwork. If you are an outdoors person, then be out of doors. If you are a musician, then make music. If you are an athlete, then play sports. If you are a thinker, then read books and have conversations. If you are writer, then dream up stories to tell. Doing activities that are fun for you will help you re-capture a sense of wonder in life and will help you thrive amidst senioritis.
We have heard it a million, zillion times – eat healthy, stay healthy. I used to roll my eyes at health until I lost it. Then I realized just how important eating healthy really is. Too much junk food can cause mood swings, lethargy, gut issues, brain fog, and worse health issues. You will have a happier outlook on life and you’ll have more determination to finish high school well if you get plenty of sleep and snack often on healthy foods. If you need a helpful diet to get you through this season, try the Whole 30 diet.
If you let senioritis control you, it can lead you into a dark place. You may become depressed and anti-social if this happens. It is important to spend time with the people you love, be it friends or family. If you do choose to go to college, then you will not see these people as much, if at all. Hang out with your friends and family; treat yourselves to an exciting adventure before graduation separates you all.
As a teacher, I would be remiss if I did not, at least once, talk about the importance of remaining academically diligent. Though it may not feel good, it is an important part of thriving. It challenges you and helps you to feel proud of your accomplishments. I wish getting self-discipline were as simple as thinking about self-discipline. Alas, the only way to acquire self-discipline is to practice self-discipline. If you need to incorporate a reward-system into your practice, then do what you have to do to finish well and to thrive. I do not need to remind you that if you are college-bound, then grades matter.
I know I mentioned it earlier, but I will say it again. It is important to do something special after graduation. Even if you graduate by the skin of your teeth, you still graduated, and that is worth celebrating! Make plans and enjoy the freedom from high school. You are in the big leagues now.
Rebecca Hasegawa is a speaker, writer, and professor at Boise Bible College. She has been teaching freshmen writing courses and a few literature courses at BBC since 2014.