The Nine-Week Depression

Love what you do and do what you love–words that seem like an unattainable dream in the slush-covered tundra that is Andover, Massachusetts. Deep in the throes of winter term’s cold vengeance, it’s easy to feel buried alive. The days are short, the nights are long, and homework comes in ever-increasing loads. But do not fret, for the light at the end of the tunnel is closer than you may think! Just remember what made you love Phillips Academy in the first place! Journey back to the first time you saw our beautiful campus. Conjure up the feelings of great anticipation that the stunning views of the vista provided. From that moment of your tour, you knew that Andover was for you. You had heard of the workload and of the difficulty of the school but you were sure you could handle it. After all, you were a straight ‘A’ student in your middle school! Fast forward to September of freshman year. Living in Rockwell, you rushed to finish your homework before lights-out. It was such a challenge. The work really was as hard as people told you it would be. But finishing your daily work before 11:00 became just another one of your hurdles to overcome. And you did. You had become an Andover student–a member of the prestigious Phillips Academy student body–and you held yourself to a higher standard! After all, Andover students are perfect! They never show the slightest hint of faltering when faced with adversity. Failure was no longer an option for you. Things became even more challenging as the term continued. Andover was not your hometown middle school. Every time you thought your teachers couldn’t possibly assign more homework, they did. But still, you carried on. You were a soldier on the battleground of Andover Hill, fighting the glorious war to attain that 6.0 you were destined to get! You prioritized your responsibilities and budgeted your time down to the second, even accounting for bathroom breaks and meals. Well, not so much meals anymore–eating had become a secondary priority by this point. Yet you continued to march on towards perfection. Your social life dwindled, but that was all right. You stayed focused. Even though Mr. Hoenig threatened you with “Anti-Restriction” on multiple occasions, you were not deterred. “What good are friends if I’m not the CEO of Goldman Sachs, the president of the World Bank, and King of the Earth?” you thought to yourself. No temptation was too great for you! Keeping your nose to the grindstone, you managed to survive Freshman Fall. With finals safely in your rearview mirror, you enjoyed winter break to the fullest. While looking over your Bio 100 textbook to get a jump on the upcoming term, you decided to get a little crazy and splurge for a new day planner! Needless to say, it was a wild and crazy time. In between all of this debauchery, you took time to reflect upon the term that was. While remembering how awesome you are for conquering the gargantuan challenges posed by the previous term, you realize that the difficulty is precisely why you love Andover so much. The bliss from knowing that you’re better than anything the school could throw at you was second to none! This knowledge holds true throughout your Andover career and is especially applicable during winter term. Whenever the winter blues bring you down, just remember: you attended this school knowing full well that it would be hard, so stop complaining! Tired of hearing stories like this? Yeah, me too. Truth is, winter term is brutal. It’s long, it’s cold and it’s dark. Homework piles up seemingly faster than we can do it–no matter how well we manage our time. That’s not to say that it’s the Academy’s fault. Although Head of School Day and February Frees help to alleviate the pains of winter term and certainly help to brighten the season, there is just nothing that can completely eradicate the woes of winter. It’s not that winter term is a guaranteed 9 week-long depression, it’s just that out of all 3 terms, the snowiest one also happens to be the worst. Staying inside all day makes people crazy with cabin fever. I’ve noticed that when the sun’s gone, the fun’s gone too. Maybe it’s that the student body’s homework tolerance goes down along with the temperature, or maybe the teachers really do assign more than they typically do. Either way, I know that I’m swimming in a sea of math problems and analytical essays. And, just like the snow, it’s not showing any signs of letting up. The best advice is to take the season in stride, keep your spirits up as best you can, and remember that spring break is only five weeks away. Zach Merchant is a two-year Lower from Lebanon, PA.