If we're to believe singer Belinda Carlisle when she claims that Heaven is a place on earth, logic would suggest the idea of "hell on earth" is just as real. Any high schooler would be quick to agree; we see it in the cold corridors we walk and odd-tasting cafeteria food we reluctantly eat and the imprisoning monotony of homework and sleeplessness that leaves little time for fun and games. Above all else, hell is the anxiety of viewing high school as the launchpad of our careers, the supposedly defining moments of our futures.
There's no better remedy for these troubles than the cold, hard truth. Here are the thoughts that have gotten me through high school; here's hoping they can do the same for you.
A single test grade means absolutely nothing about your worth or potential.
Aristotle said excellence is not an act but a habit (or did he?). Doing poorly on or even failing a test is a major inconvenience for a high school student, and it's healthy to feel disappointment. Shame, however, is your enemy. Our grades are almost always dependent on the choices we make (to study or watch Netflix), not on our actual potential for success. You are more than your grade.
Aptitude is only as important as attitude.
They sound similar for a reason. Actually that's probably not why, but nevertheless, the importance of attitude is something even the most diligent of students tend to overlook. I won't bore you with the whole "positive attitude" spiel you've heard a million times, mostly because it's misinformed. A positive mentality is not a pillar for success, it's a requisite for your mental health. No, you don't have to be mentally healthy to reach success, but that's a deliberate choice you're making to neglect your well-being for the abstract, unfulfilling idea of "success."
You are not alone.
Sure, you're physically not alone at school: on any given day you're bound to find at least a few friends to accompany you. Best of all you're not alone in your individual experience of the treacherous pit that is high school education. The same fear, stress and annoyance that mark your worst days are equally present in your peers. They might learn to hide it or even to cope with it so that its effect is minimal, but the lingering sentiments are still there.
Only you are responsible for your future.
Yes, you. This comes with some good news and bad news: you have tremendous power over your life, but that power comes with equal responsibility. Waiting to cram for an exam the night before and then finding it incredibly taxing is a result of your own actions. On the other hand, take credit for your success and never lose faith in yourself. The adage "you can do anything to set your mind to" is factually incorrect, but that doesn't make it any less useful. Own up to everything you can control, the good and the bad.
There are thousands of possible paths to the same destination.
Imagine you're the stylized arrow or blue circle on a GPS, your destination set and your position constantly changing. At every wrong turn or missed exit, you take a moment to refresh and then recalibrate. More immediately, I apply this to every poor decision I make in school, but it should also help to shift your view of the future. You don't have to get into that school or keep a 4.0 in order to be successful (whatever that means). Have concrete plans if it makes you comfortable, but don't be discouraged when you have to throw them out; your destination is the same.
The search for success has a cheat code.
Success is abstract, subjective, and I'd even venture to say it's not real. That is, it's a concept so intangible and unsatisfying in practice that it has no value. Constantly hoping to obtain that that level of accomplishment for your life's actions will get you nowhere, especially when that threshold for success is defined by outside forces. Every human being on Earth is racing to reach the doorway marked "SUCCESS" in neat Sharpie, but the hallway keeps getting longer and longer. Don't waste your time.
Most importantly, high school ends.
Isn't it great? Our one escape from eternal torture quickly approaches at the end of the tunnel in the form of a cap and gown. Graduation isn't just great for the graduates, however. Every May as the sea of caps rises in the air, you receive visual proof of the finite nature of high school. Your four years are of torture are just that— four years.