*Author's Note: This is part one of a massive series that I'll be writing over the next few months and will continue at random. When inspiration strikes, I will right another part. In my time at Odyssey, I have focused on sports and high school life, both of which have become increasingly bland and repetitive for me. This series will be written in a form of one long paragraph that bounces around from one idea to the next, and it will cover a myriad of topics, all of which are always in the minds of people, especially high school and college students, but aren't discussed enough. Part one discusses not only the fact that students face stress (that's a given), but where the stress stems from and how, sometimes, the amount of stress can become insurmountable.

It's kind of ironic how, as I'm writing this, I'm stranded in the freezing cold waiting for my practice ACT by my parents, who are attending my little sister's practice volleyball game. I love my parents, and I'm not blaming them for anything, but I have a cold and I fear it'll only get worse as I write this. But I digress. Generally speaking, this has been one of the worst academic weeks of my life. A plethora of Cs, Ds and an F in there as well. As a normal straight A student, this was... unexpected. But I'm not here to complain about how difficult life is. Rather, I want to discuss the topic of stress, and what it does to people. As a junior in high school, classes have become increasingly harder, my social life is wobbling between unmanageable and moving too slow, and life in general has been a blur. As a normal procrastinator, like so many of my fellow peers, I have been able to get by all my life with minimal effort and a glowing personality (though I may not always feel the same way on the inside). However, with my procrastination only getting worse by the year, my effort has needed to double to maintain my normal standards, which it has yet to do. Normally when I get a B or a C on a test I can calm myself down, convincing myself it was just "a bad day at the office". Now, with so much negative stacking up, the pressure, seemingly for the first time academically, has mounted to a point where I can't handle it. I'm beginning to crack, so to speak. And not only is school that has been serving myself and my fellow high-schoolers infinite servings of stress; sports and relationships have too. Especially relationships. I like to think of my friends as a solid group of guys (about 12-15 or so), and I have many other acquaintances who aren't in our "squad". Yet with J-prom right around the proverbial corner, a focus has been put on "love relationships" as opposed to "friend" ones. Yet, as a kids under 18, with so limited experience outside the people in our town and neighborhood, can we truly define what "love" is? We can tell our boyfriend or girlfriend we love them, but honestly, do we even know what the hell it means? It's certainly not a tangible thing, though most people clearly like to pretend it is. I have numerous friends who are girls, but I'm not dating anyone. Nor are most of my friends, or people at my high school in general for that matter. As someone with limited experience being in one of these relationships, it's incredibly difficult to stomach the idea of a prom where only 30% of the grade has someone to go with. And the stress it puts on others to get a date is ungodly. Inhumane honestly. And that's why so many people "crack" under the pressure. It's not just that there is so much stress, but it comes from all different angles of life. And it happens to everybody. I guess it's just as natural as guaranteed as death: stress.