Commentary

Necessary Thinking

Every Sunday night at 10 p.m., my friends gather in my room, and we make our goals. Usually at this time of night, we are paying dearly for our procrastination, but we are still lacking the incentive to be productive. Nevertheless, we take the time to congregate in the cleanest of all of our rooms, eating the candy that is ever-present on our mantle. We each make a social goal and an academic goal, approved by the rest of the group. Usually they entail hopes for a good grade or a new relationship. Frenzied college early-applicant Lucy Arnold said, “This week I want to be less social.” They involve things such as improved grades on weekly Bio quizzes, or working diligently on Model UN tasks. Contrarily, our social goals are as erratic from week to week as east coast weather. But each person’s goals seem to follow a certain theme, revealing their faults and their desires to change or improve. I write my goals in bold red marker on the top of my whiteboard, hanging over my desk as a perpetual reminder. They structure my week, and act as a beacon against counterproductive actions. They clear my mind to have something towards which I can work each week, rather than letting my responsibilities and goals take control of my mind. At Andover, everyone aspires. As we let these goals pile up uncultivated and unaccomplished, our heads become increasingly and unbearably heavier under their burdensome weight. Sleep deprivation already causes a droop in our gait; we do not need the added forces of stress pressing us down to meet rock bottom. The school’s tradition of Wellness Week helps to ease that pressure once a year, theoretically alleviating our workload and providing us with outlets to de-stress and ignore the persistent headache of being overworked. But after Wellness Week is over, we are left to our own devices once again. Any relaxation and good habits we may have nurtured over the course of the week are challenged as teachers try to make up for our free cuts and press in last units before Thanksgiving and finals week. Allow me to challenge the students with one more task: the task to teach oneself how to relax. One must remember that he or she is always in control of her emotional reactions and stress levels; he or she always has the power to react differently to a situation, to change his or her circumstances to his or her favor. He or she must do this little by little, making every change by asking, “Will this make me happy?” We six girls of Day Hall focus our desires to improve by making goals, addressing tolerable increments each week. Surely, if asked, any Andover student can share a goal they have, be it senior year, after graduation, in college, or career endeavors. But they will also likely admit, without hesitation, to their stress or fatigue. While it is great to look forward to college admissions or career opportunities, our weekly short-term goals are what “keep us grounded and sane,” as my roommate says. Short terms goals are palatable and not overwhelming; ask what you can do now to help yourself, to de-stress, to make yourself happier. The rest will come in time. Kerry Lanzo is a two-year Upper from Towson, MD. klanzo@andover.edu