I've touched on this in one of my articles before, but lately, I've been thinking a lot about high school. Every day, I pass all my old schools I have gone to throughout my educational journey. I'm still living in the home I grew up in. Nothing usually comes to mind when I pass by. It's a privilege to see where I once was a long time ago. It is encouraging to see where I am now, and where I'm going to go.

So many things have changed in my life since I graduated May of last year. For instance, I'm preparing to leave the country. None of my friends are the same as then. Even the people I do speak to, I only speak to a very small amount regularly.

At the moment, I'm finishing up my third semester of college, and I've recently learned some things about myself.

What I learned was that: I wish I wouldn't have tried so hard in high school. Don't get me wrong, I was really happy with my grades, and I was happy with my standing in all of my clubs and organizations. But if I would have just relaxed, I think my stress levels would've gone down.

I'm taking more of this approach in college. I'm in a few clubs and organizations that I love, working 25 hours a week, and going to school full time. All of this is very manageable compared to what I was doing to myself. I've learned I don't need to take on the world at once to be successful. I can do it a semester at a time, and I will still be happy with where I am.

Specifically, I'm thinking back to my junior year. There is where I had a lot of things going on at once. It was my best year GPA and club-wise, but it was the worst year for my mental health. I had a really rough year because I had a lot going on in my personal life, and it overlapped with school a lot of the time. However, I did channel the energy back into my school year; but at what cost?

Looking back, I wish I could tell myself that I didn't have to do it all. I didn't have to overwhelm myself in order to impress the people surrounding me. It wasn't fair to myself that I kept piling things up. I was so happy to be done with that year when it was over. I was so used to the way I was acting that it carried over into my senior year of high school. At that point, I didn't even realize how stressed I was.

Don't get me wrong, high school matters. It's hard to get any job without a diploma or GED. I worked hard, and I was lucky to even receive a few scholarships. However, even though I'm incredibly grateful for what I did get, the stress I put in didn't equal anything to be in the long run. I learned a lot about my work ethic and who I am as a person, but my mental health suffered.

I just want to tell everyone in high school: work hard, but don't stress yourself out too much. High school is only important while you're in it. Afterwards, it is only something you think about in hindsight. Everything will fall into place if you work at it, but please, don't ever get to my position looking back. Sometimes it's tough and that's okay. However. if you find yourself asking "why" it matters, it's okay to call it into question for yourself and your future.