It’s never been like this before



My hand darts towards my phone, but not to check my Snapchat or my Instagram as I might have done a couple of months ago. The ding of a snap, or even a text, no longer interests me; the excitement garnered pales in comparison to the buzz I just heard. The buzz of an email. I think of the possibilities: an acceptance from the University of Arizona, a confirmation from the University of Michigan, or a scholarship offer from the University of Iowa.

Alas, it is none of the notifications I had hoped for. Rather, I’m bombarded by more than half a dozen emails all at once, each from a college that I am in no way interested in applying to. “Last chance.” “Final deadline approaching.” “LAST CALL!” “You have only two days.” Final reminder.” “Early action deadline approaching.” “Nov. 1 is not too far!”

My inbox gets crowded with dozens of these emails as the deadline approaches, and each one is a constant reminder of the work I still have remaining. This remaining college application work, however, fades from my mind when I snap out of my daze and take a look at my table top in front of me.

I return from my mental sojourn regarding colleges and gaze around at my surroundings. It’s 8 p.m., I’ve just returned home from work, and I know I have a long few hours ahead of me. Between chapter reading, enzyme projects, component velocity labs, and derivative webworks, on this one night especially, AP Literature, AP Biology, AP Physics, and AP Calculus have me utterly beat.

I’m interested in all of these subjects. I really am. I’ve always loved to read, and literature was once my outlet and passion wrapped up into one. I want to go into the biomedical engineering field, and I’m fascinated by the scientific life systems and rules of the universe explored in biology and physics. And though “calculus” sounds daunting, I’m genuinely enjoying solving derivatives. But day to day, the combination of these four classes and intertwining of the intense course load are conquering me.

I find myself inexplicably unable to balance my schoolwork this year. If I’m thriving in a few of my subjects, a few days later, the result will be dropping grades in my other subjects. I could spend a few hours really diving into my biology chapter about metabolism, but the result will be confusion in a velocity lab or forgetting about my AP Lit vocab quiz the next day.

Even when I get a moment of free time, the looming background of unfinished college applications still haunts me. Since August 1st, I haven’t had a single second of repose. I miss the feeling of being able to sit down and not immediately having all the things I could be doing instead pop into my head. These reminders wrap around my brain and pull tighter and tighter to no end.

They say senior year is a breeze, but I haven’t had this feeling replicated since the first day of school. Sure, junior year was difficult, but for some reason, I was still able to take control and, above all, enjoy my learning. I’ve handled substantial amounts of stress before, but it’s always gone away within a few weeks, contrary to the sustained wave of pressure and strain I’ve been consistently riding for the last three months.

It’s never been this stressful, this prolonged, and this sustained. It’s never been this exhausting. It’s never been so utterly defeating.

It’s never been like this before.