If there was one word that summed up those final years of high school it would be overwhelming. There’s definitely other words that can be used as well (i.e. totally fucking stressful) but let’s stick with this one for now. It’s overwhelming because there’s so much to do, not enough time to do it and you’re drowning in a sea of competing priorities.

Those final years turn into a race where the most important thing is beating the person next to you and everything else gets pushed to the sidelines.

What’s more important?

With so much going on it’s no wonder we get our priorities mixed up. When we asked you guys what you thought, you ranked doing well in your studies as more important than your happiness.

Which is weird, because when we asked you about success, you said you measured success in terms of your happiness and whether you’re pursuing your passions. Which means even though we value our happiness, we’re still not making it a priority over our academic work.

Why aren’t we putting our happiness first?

One of the reasons we just aren’t prioritising happiness is because of all the pressure to do well at school. It can feel like your entire life revolves around school and that no one cares about you as a person; that all you’re going to end up being is a few numbers on a piece of paper.

Sometimes it gets to the point where you’re giving it your all but it’s never enough. Someone always thinks you can do better, beats you in an exam or gets a higher mark on their assignment. There’s so much focus on getting good marks, spending all your free time studying and not disappointing people, that there’s no time left over for you.

We tell ourselves it’s only temporary. High school is just a few short years, and we’re all a bit stressed and unhappy right now, but it’ll be over soon.  But there’s a dangerous kind of relationship going on internally when our priorities (school) and our values (happiness) don’t match up.

How can you have a successful, fulfilling life if all you do is study?

You can’t.

We deserve to enjoy our lives

Studying is important; but you being a happy, functioning human being, is even more important. No assignment mark, exam result or subject ranking is worth the price of your wellbeing- and with all the stats around mental health, it’s pretty clear we need to take a step back and reevaluated what we actually care about.

These are some pretty important years. As much as it feels like school is never ending, your teenage years will be over before you know it and you want to be able to look back on them and say you made the most of it- that you didn’t let your final marks or a test score stop you from enjoying your life.

by Kaitlyn Hudson-O'Farrell