Through Teen Eyes: Young achievers strive to balance expectations, essentials
by Rachel Johnson / For the Tracy Press
Oct 13, 2011 | 1261 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
I wake up at 6 a.m., in darkness. Drive to school by 6:30, finish up chemistry lab by 8:20, get to first period by 8:30, receive a homework assignment at 9:10 and head to second period.

Take a test at 10:20, then it’s 11:30. I take a 10-second breather, then start Spanish homework. A bell rings at 12:10 p.m. — 20 minutes of lecture, then a pop quiz. 

At 1:20, I’m heading down the hall to history. Ten minutes reviewing a unit test, 40 minutes reviewing homework. 

A bell rings. I rush to my last class — a lecture, another pop quiz, more homework, and another bell rings.

Now, it’s back to chemistry lab to get help with chemistry homework. I leave for home by 4:30 to get ready for soccer practice, safely speed to the field and take a second to breathe.

Practice is over by 8 p.m. It’s getting dark. I go home, start homework, drink some coffee, go over my Chapter 5 notes, drink more coffee. Then, finally, sleep.

Beeping, and the clock reads 6 a.m. Today — all of yesterday’s tomorrows — pulls me out of bed. 

While starting to focus between sips of coffee, I ask myself, “Am I doing too much?”

Without much thought I silence my questions with another gulp and continue working. My justification for this is simply answered with another question: If everyone else is doing it, why can’t I? I’m not the only kid juggling responsibilities and ignoring much-needed sleep. Everyone is doing it.

Everyone is taking Advanced Placement and honors classes, everyone is playing a sport, everyone is joining a club, and everyone is volunteering for something, when they really don’t have the time. I just refuse to be less than “everyone.”

The weekend. Do I catch up on sleep? Not really. I begin to wonder why. Why is everyone pushing themselves past their limits, burning the last few calories of energy they have? The answer is college. 

Many of us have seen the luxuries resulting from a college education or the struggles that likely come without it. I hardly remember anything about my childhood. But I remember my parents struggling and even returning to college, while putting my siblings and me through a private school. That made me remember one thing: Work hard now, enjoy life later. I guess this message stuck, because I have a full plate but no time to eat.

What’s the solution? Many of us kids find ourselves in this monotonous and tiring routine because we want to please our parents, our employers, our teachers and our coaches. We want to please everyone, when in reality we can’t. The solution to our problem is fairly simple: We must learn to use the words “No,” “I’m sorry,” ”I can’t.” 

We need to find out what’s important and mesh this with the expectations of the other people in our lives, and realize that singer Rickey Nelson was right in singing: “You know you can’t please everyone, so you got to please yourself.”

With these words and discovery of ourselves, we can balance our hectic lives and truly focus — or maybe refocus — on what’s important.

• Rachel Johnson is a junior at Kimball High School who moved to Tracy in 2010. Through Teen Eyes is a column featuring her take on the city she loves to call home.
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