The High School Experience in Hindsight

football field

The good ol’ American high school experience doesn’t solely constitute cheerleaders and school formals and Friday night lights (granted, the latter took up an unimaginable amount of time), rather, it is a time to better cultivate one’s interests.

For me, much of my time and focus revolved around sports, which taught me invaluable lessons. Football and track are polar opposites when it comes to level of contact but are similar in that they instill a sense of comradery, complementing one another perfectly. Football, in particular, taught me to focus on trying to make a great play instead of playing to not make mistakes. Being a cornerback, the opposing team wanted to see me fail, whereas I gained the most joy from subsequently crushing the aspirations of the offense. On the other hand, track (especially the 400m) proved to me that there is always room to push past preconceived mental/physical limits. Whether it be in football where the whole team and even town are relying on your performance, or track where you are up against your past self to seek tangible improvement, both allowed me to have a blast during high school.

Although a number of classes proved to be a breeze for the most part, everything in high school offered something in return. Sure, one can take the easy way out and “borrow” the work from a classmate, but this is never rewarding. Truly applying oneself and amassing more and more knowledge from each class made the tedious parts much more intriguing throughout the process. 

Grades and test scores can loom over the heads of even the most optimistic students, as universities these days seem to demand candidates that have near-perfect metrics. It was important that I kept in mind that these scores hold the key to my future, yes, but it was equally important to block them from my mind each and every day. Focusing on the task at hand instead of building up an unhealthy amount of stress is the key to staying sane as a high schooler. This may not be the same in college, but oftentimes hanging out with friends or lifting weights for an extra hour proved to be much more rewarding than studying to the point of overkill. Hopefully I can continue to find an optimal balance when the workload increases in college in order to grow in all facets of life.

Coming back down from my over-philosophical high, I wouldn’t really change too much about my high school experience. After sitting through a plethora of graduation speeches last week, we realized that the adults were harping far too much on the whole COVID adversity thing. I don’t think it really defined us at all though, because taking life’s obstacles as they come and not paying too much mind to them in hindsight allows us to better focus on reaching our goals. Now it is time for me to look onward to the horizon. I’m just hoping life doesn’t hit me as hard as the 300-pound offensive tackle did!

– Quinn Jackson, Research Intern