I have always been one to push deadlines to their limit, to wait until the last minute to finish something. I wrote research papers the night before they were due. I drafted editorials minutes before press. I studied for tests in the ten-minute passing period before class. I submitted this Senior Reflection days after the deadline (sorry, CXXXVII).
I have pulled a lot of all-nighters at Andover, often as a product of either an incredible workload or extreme procrastination. Sometimes, though, I would pull an all-nighter just to… pull an all-nighter. No essays to write, no articles to edit, no tests to study for, no real reason to stay up.
At Andover, we so rarely have the opportunity to escape. Our lives are planned out to the minute — academics in the morning, athletics in the afternoon, extracurriculars in the evening, studying all night. We live by this routine day in and day out, always on the go, always over-committed, always exhausted, always stressed.
All-nighters were my escape. As time approached 2 a.m., the world would begin to decelerate. The footsteps in the hall outside my bedroom would disappear, the sounds from the TV downstairs would fall silent, and, suddenly, I would be all there was. I would not have to subscribe to Andover’s regimen for the successful student. I would not have to sit through a 75-minute calculus class nor would I have to pretend that I liked sports. I would study at my own pace, unafraid of falling behind the rest of my class. I would fail just as often as I would succeed. I would make mistakes. I would be something other than happy — even cry if I wanted to.
During every one of my four years at Andover, I struggled to find the particular Andover persona that fit me best. For a while, I was a jock who wore mid-calves and Nike Dunks and dreamed of one day making Varsity. (All boys are athletes, right?) Enter my rebellious
phase, and I was a hipster-photographer who “literally couldn’t care less.” (Andover must have sucked Lower year, right?) When Upper Fall hit, I became a bookworm who lived 24/7 in the Garver Room. (I was supposed to go to an Ivy, right?) One night, about a year ago, I decided to finally tell people that I am gay. (Keeping a secret like that for 17 years really sucks.)
The point is that I felt a lot of pressure to be sure of who I was at Andover, to claim a personality that fit both Andover and myself — quite the emotionally taxing task. When I would pull an all-nighter, however, I could ignore the things Andover wanted me to be and think (just a little bit) “sibi.”
I only managed to find that same freedom and individuality in one other place —_ The Phillipian_ newsroom. From the moment I first walked into the fluorescent-lit room in the basement of Morse Hall, I immediately felt like I had entered a whole new world. _The Phillipian_ was the antithesis of everything I had ever experienced at Andover. Down in the newsroom, we, the students, called the shots — not Andover, not its administration. We were unafraid to make mistakes, unafraid to try and fail, unafraid to try and succeed. The newsroom became a place where I was not afraid to be myself.
The Phillipian expected only one thing from me: impeccable work ethic. Beyond that, I could do anything or be anyone I wanted to. Devoid of the social pressures I felt from the rest of Andover, _The Phillipian_ was an open and encouraging environment — one created entirely by the students who populated it. We were athletes and artists, bookworms and socialites, computer science wizards and history buffs, but, above all, we were friends. We saw each other in the best of times, but also in the worst of times. And no matter what, we would always be there for each other.
Andover demands a lot from us. It twists and bends us until we nearly crumble with stress. And in the end, we will, we hope, put our preparation to good use “so that [we] may lead responsible and fulfilling lives,” reads Andover’s Statement of Purpose. The truth, however, is that although we each may have our shining moments of success, we are far from perfect — and that is just fine. Find ways to be proud of yourself. Find your all-nighters. Find your _Phillipian_. Find your newsroom.
_Stephen Moreland is a four-year Senior from Andover, Mass., and the Editor in Chief of _The Phillipian _Volume CXXXVI._