Norah Schaafsma consistently keeps her daily life full


Junior Norah Schaafsma lives a bustling, busy life.

Through the hectic high school schedule, Norah is constantly keeping herself occupied; whether it is through work, sports, or even just hanging out with friends, she is constantly adapting to an energetic daily pattern.

“The distraction of sports and being able to participate in work has really helped and benefited my mental health and my mental state,” Norah said. “Being busy helps me better improve it, but on days when I’m not busy or I have nothing to do after school specifically, I get bored and have to find stuff to do, so I’ll call into work. I would just say that [school and work] are not a lot for me because of the fact that I picture it as I’m happy. I’m in a happy place [when I’m] working or [playing sports].”

Norah has always been a huge advocate for mental health, so even though she has a lot on her plate, she is able to balance it all in a healthy way.

Even though Norah is learning to manage her stress by enjoying what she is filling her time with, it can still be tiring and become a repetitive routine that is hard to break.

“I’m passionate about mental health issues,” Norah said. “I talk a lot about that in any sort of TED Talk that we’ve done in school [or] writing. Being busy gets stressful, specifically [where I work] because of how busy it is, but then, it makes time go fast, and then [I] go home because the shift moved so fast, go to sleep, wake up, and go to school. It’s all a cycle. When you get used to it, you adapt to the stress and constant cycle of it all.”

Luckily, Norah has found her own ways to manage the repetition of day-to-day life; whether it is breaking the cycle or simply embracing it, she has found a comfortable spot to adapt to her environment.

The most typical way to unwind after a tiring week for any average high school student probably revolves around hanging out with friends or even just watching TV, but Norah tends to enjoy the smaller shifts in her daily sequence.

“I [often] hang out with my boyfriend,” Norah said, “and then, I hang out with friends a lot and play video games here and there, so that breaks it up. Also, [when] going back and forth from my parents’ houses, dinner with my dad is breaking the cycle. There are little things in there that break that whole entirety of the cycle; it depends on the week whether or not I break it more.”

There are little things in there that break that whole entirety of the cycle; it depends on the week whether or not I break it more.

— Norah Schaafsma

A part of Norah’s daily rhythm that helps her and others is her positive mentality.

High school can be such an intimidating part of one’s life, and Norah extends her kindness and tries to let life take its course when it comes to teenage drama.

“I’m a person who [thinks] that if somebody is mean to you, that doesn’t give you the right to be mean to them back,” Norah said. “But, I think that high school especially [is] a jungle where if you go through a friend breakup, drama, or any sort of issue, and your friendships split up, they always find their way back to each other [and] have some sort of connection again.” 

Within her constant love for vocalizing the sincerity of mental health issues, Norah feels as though her one goal is to be kind. To improve the lives of others—and even her own—she uses her compassion for others to help them feel as though they belong.

Even with her own mental health struggles and a full plate each and every day, Norah finds ways to implement her genuine goodness into her classrooms.

“You don’t know what [others] have going on in their life,” Norah said. “They don’t know what you have going on in your own life. Just be kind, and always try to include people. Make sure people feel welcome like new students, exchange students, or even people that you see in the library or the cafeteria sitting alone; you should ask them to sit with you. I feel like it should become more common than it is, but at the same time, that could be your best friend, and you would never meet them.”