The Finish Line: An Endless Marathon

Wait. Stop. Let’s run it back. After all, Halloween was just yesterday, right?

Right? Nope. In the blink of an eye, the clocks have turned and all of a sudden, it’s December 22nd and college applications are due in a little over a week. I still need to fill out the FAFSA and take the driving test I told my dad I would take over two months ago. 

How did I get here?

I still remember March of 2020 like it was last week. We had been crunching to finish the March 2020 edition of the paper, staying after every day. The Dunkin runs, the cups of coffee we drank, the hours spent sitting at the desktops, I remember it all vividly. I had gone broke during the week, so the Editor-in-Chief at the time actually covered my bus ride home. I remember being careful to not touch anything on the bus unless I absolutely had to.

Most of all, I remember that I was so excited for my birthday. Sweet 16, am I right?

March 13th, our two week vacation began.

Coming back over a year later, I was so excited. I still spoke with friends during the online era, but it wasn’t the same as seeing them in real life. However, the  joy I felt at finally hanging out with friends was short lived. 

The work piled on so fast.

At first, it was slightly manageable. I didn’t mind staying up till 11:00 once or twice a week. Then 11:00 became 12:00, and I stopped caring after 1:00.

Was it healthy? No. Was I getting my work done? Yes.

I even dropped AP Research, because I knew I wouldn’t be able to juggle a whole research project on top of 2 more AP classes, Blue and Gold, and the mock trial competition. For the record, AP Research is the only class I’ve ever dropped in my entire high school career.

And all this for what? What am I trying to prove, and to whom? I’ve always challenged myself and pushed the boundaries of my brain in past years, so what changed that everythings dialed up to 11 this year?

I can’t answer that question, at least not now. I tell myself that as soon as I reach a certain point, as soon as I finish this assignment or hit that benchmark, everything will get better, and easier. But that’s not true. It never gets easier. You just have to learn to accept it, because something else will come up. The marathon lasts forever, you might see a finish line, but it never gets closer; there’s always another stretch to run through.

I told myself, once college applications are submitted, it’ll all be fine, I’ll have more free time. But I still feel a heavy burden? Why? Because I was lying to myself, college applications were one of the many things I had on my mind; they were the most important, so I equated them to my cause of stress, when they weren’t at all that difficult or time consuming; deadlines are just scary, I guess.  

And what’s next? Graduation? After graduation comes college, which means having to pick a major, which means figuring out my entire life in the next two years. And after that? I have to get a job that pays enough to let me live, and pay off rent, student loans, bills, etc. And don’t even get me started on a family. I don’t even know how I’m going to support myself, let alone other people. 

So what’s the end goal? Retirement? I don’t even know if I’m going to make it past 65 with the way the world is going, so let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

I know that so far, this has just sounded like a total pessimistic rant, and I agree, which is surprising. I consider myself a generally optimistic, joyful, and goofy person, so seeing this splash of burnout and exhaustion coming from my head onto the screen is quite jarring, and sad. But, I will end on a happy note.

The marathon never ends, but that doesn’t mean you have to keep running. It’s not like someone is chasing you 24/7 (and if someone IS, you should definitely get that sorted out), you can always take a break. So value the little moments, the time you spend at the rest stops with friends and family, because everyone is in this race together. Through the trials I’ve faced this past year, I’ve learned to value the time I spend with friends and family even more. Soak up every bit of joy you can take, because the thought that maybe tomorrow, you can go out and get some food with friends, or you can spend time with your siblings, those are the thoughts that keep you going when the finish line seems so far away.

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