Thursday, May 19, 2022

“Hours pass slowly, years pass fast.” I don’t remember exactly what poem I heard that line in (and Google wasn’t being so helpful when I looked it up), but it describes pretty well how I’m feeling right now.

I mean… I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, at last! The storybook of my junior year has reached its final chapter! I’ve climbed most of the mountain and now I can see the peak! I’m running out of metaphors!

But really, I and my fellow classmates have reached the homestretch of eleventh grade; less than two months and it’ll all be over for the summer. This is more significant than it seems. As you may know if you’ve gone through it before or are going through it yourself, the junior year of high school is notorious everywhere for being the hardest year of your life. Okay, that may be exaggerating it a little bit, but it’s indeed very tough. From the flood of tests and history papers, to the piling on of clubs and extracurricular activities, to the looming deadlines of the history paper and the SATs/ACTs… Let’s just say that if every other year were a rainstorm, this one was Superstorm Sandy.

Now, though, we’ve nearly reached the end. The finals schedule is being formed (a controversial escapade every single year), people are finalizing summer plans and the clock is ticking. We’re almost there, almost at the end of this school year. Almost.

That’s the key word: almost. The end is tantalizingly in sight, but it’s like staring at a clock; the minutes pass so slowly, and the second hand seems to take forever. It seems like the school year will never end—the tests and work and stress will go on forever. Obviously that’s ridiculous, but it’s certainly how I’m feeling right now as I try to stay afloat with all of my current commitments, even as the year comes to a close.

(For the record, I have no vendetta against school or working hard. It’s just that this year in particular has been long and stressful, and now with summer around the corner it feels particularly endless.)

So what are we to do? Really, what is anyone to do when they find themselves in this sort of situation where they can see the end and yet it seems so far?

Maybe we need to just grit our teeth and push forward. For me, it’s less than two months, and looking back at the eight school months I’ve conquered already, the remaining time should slide by quickly if I just focus and work hard to get everything done. (This includes deadlines for my Jewish Link articles which—exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the making of A Teen’s Perspective!—I’m usually behind on.) But that’s also a depressing thought. I don’t want to look at the rest of the school year and its obligations as just that—obligations. I don’t want to see them simply as items I need to complete and check off; that makes them feel boring and gloomy.

The best way to look at it, I feel, is to look at the remaining time not as something that’s in the way of the next step, but as an opportunity to finish off with flying colors. If I get all of my work done and get good grades on my finals, I’ll polish off junior year well. I’ll be able to look back on it and feel like I’ve been successful, from beginning to end. We do need to push forward when it seems like we’re in an endless period of time, but we also can enjoy that period as it goes on and work to make it as good as possible. And then we can finally make the left turn and reach the next destination in the GPS of our lives! (I was hoping to come up with another metaphor at some point.)

Oren Oppenheim, age 17, is a junior at Ramaz Upper School in Manhattan and lives in Fair Lawn, NJ. He spends his free time writing and reading, and hopes to become a published novelist, but currently is drowning in emails from colleges. You can email him at [email protected] and see his photography at facebook.com/orenphotography.

By Oren Oppenheim

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