Focus on your passions. Aim for joy, not perfection.

Audrey Matzke, Assistant Editor

Sleepless nights, nervous breakdowns, and lunch periods spent drilling Chemistry notes. For quite a while, the fleeting highs of excellent report cards were enough to keep me going.

Until they weren’t. When my grades began to slip during Fall Quarter, I wasn’t prepared for the misery that would follow. Many of my peers have been similarly disillusioned, and our lack of perfection has left us feeling lost.

The solution is easier said than done: Stop trying to be perfect at everything. Instead, focus on what interests you.

I’ve always loved writing, but until very recently, I made very little time to pursue my interests. Now, the hours I used to spend obsessing over math are free for me to write short stories or do thoughtful, high-quality work in English class. Instead of quickly moving on to the next subject, I now allow my mind to linger on my English readings, appreciating their brilliance more and more in the process.

While I don’t condone slacking off or not turning in assignments, school’s excessive focus on being “well-rounded” stifles depth and creativity. Students should do diligent work in all of their classes, but should not allow perfectionism to get in the way of their interests. In fact, Lab’s educational impact would be incomplete if we did not allow it to support our individual dreams and passions.

For many students, getting good grades isn’t about serving their own needs, but rather, that of their parents. Good parents want their children to live happy, productive lives, so it’s easy to understand where their emphasis on academic performance comes from. However, a study of over 700 American millionaires showed that their average high school GPA was only 2.9. According to Money magazine, American high schools reward a more generalized scope of proficiency, whereas the adult world rewards individuals with passion and expertise, even if it only manifests in one place.

Doing a lot of what you love makes you happier, and in the context of the recent wellness survey, more happiness is what our community needs.

U-High has a determined and conscientious student body, yet 81 percent of us reported symptoms of anxiety. Of course, we are going to face challenges no matter what we do, even in our most beloved activities. However, if you truly care about them, your passion will sustain you through times of difficulty.

Tonight, I encourage my fellow students to take time for the things they love: Practice violin, read about neuroscience, write a poem, write Python script.

Nobody’s perfect at everything, but with enough dedication, we can all be great at something.