As Andover students trudge from building to building, hauling their heavy textbooks, they bear both a mental and a physical burden in the days leading up to Extended Period Week. Immersed in a culture of stress and competition, students are often overwhelmed by the pressure to perform well academically, athletically or otherwise.
The opening of the Rebecca M. Sykes Wellness Center at the heart of campus demonstrates the administration’s efforts to promote the importance of wellness. As the term comes to a close, students should take advantage of the services available at the Wellness Center and make their wellness a priority. While many students are willing to sacrifice their physical, emotional and mental well-being in order to achieve their goals and live up to their expectations, students must make a conscious effort to avoid being absorbed by the toxic campus-wide culture.
Known for its academic rigor, Andover can be a challenging environment for many students. In addition to facing the typical pressure of being teenagers, students often push themselves to their limits in classes and extracurricular activities, which can breed a hyper-competitive environment. This culture perpetuates the idea that one must not only participate in many activities, but also perform well in all of them – while appearing to do so effortlessly.
Yet there is only so much that an Andover student is capable of handling, and we, as a community, must promote the notion that caring for your mental health is more important than your performance on any particular assignment. When students are overcome with stress or anxiety, they should seek counseling at the Wellness Center – even if it means missing class – and their peers and teachers should push them to prioritize their well-being over their workload. Andover commends students for their high achievements and pushes them to work harder each day. As a result, students are constantly rushing around and filling every waking moment with something to do, with the objective of being “involved” or staying “productive.” Students have no time to reflect on how they actually feel; they are always focused on the next task, the next goal.
Students must keep in mind that everyone is, in the words of Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., “a human being, not a human doing.” While it can be easy to get caught up in Andover’s competitive culture, students must encourage one another to value themselves and their well-being above all else.
This editorial represents the views of The Phillipian, vol. CXXXIX.