What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of love in high school? Perhaps it’s your first boyfriend in sophomore year, or the girl in Biology you had a crush on since the seventh grade. High school love-at-first-blush may be full of romantic relationships and puppy-love, but that’s not the only way in which we can find “love” in our lives.
If I told you to find love in everything you do, you’d probably laugh; it sounds like an ultimate cliché. However, in the stress-charged environment we find ourselves at from 8-3 every day, it’s easy to lose track of what we love. Whether it’s the way that your friend plays the cello or the moment you win an award that recognizes your passion, the events in your life that make your heart glow can both save you from a lot of time and energy wasted on superfluous fretting and make your lifestyle more bearable.
I speak from experience. Ever since I stepped foot into Tenafly High School, I have been told that junior year would be hell year. It would be the year of standardized testing, AP classes, and utter torture. When the summer before the junior year rolled around, I sat at my desk and started a list of all the things that I love as an attempt to find the silver lining in the year ahead of me. It looked a little bit like this:
Things I Love
Gnocchi (my dog)
My six friends
The smell of citron tea
The list went on and on, each one more specific than the preceding. And it made me realize: I have a lot of things that I really love. I was overcome with fear. Would I have to sacrifice these things in hell year? Would I not have time to love down to the details?
That’s what a lot of it comes down to: time. We’re just too busy filling out scantrons, checking the answers on our SAT practice tests, and calling summer programs to see if we understood their application prompt correctly. The more I thought about it, the more frustrated I got. I refused to accept that I had to sacrifice all the things I love in order to maintain a successful high school career.
The truth is, we don’t have to sacrifice a lot if we start paying closer attention to the world around us. If we open our minds up to looking at things from a new perspective, we just might find that we like something more than we initially thought. We might be able to catch a small detail in life that we often just pass by and find it to be something we want to hold closer to our hearts. These kinds of identifications, no matter how small or big, can act as daily reminders that the world we live in has the potential for so much more love as long as we are open to embracing it.
I think of love like a muscle. You can’t just stop using it, get back to it later, and expect your capacity to use it to be the same; it doesn’t work like that. If you don’t consistently use the muscle, it will ultimately diminish. I see high school as an opportunity to exercise that muscle and prepare to love even deeper after high school.
I find myself falling in love every day. Whether it’s the handwriting of my chemistry notes or a quote from the book that I’m reading in English, identifying what I love has made my high school lifestyle worthwhile. This is one of the main things I’ll be taking away from high school: being able to love, and being able to build upon that love.
I hope that while you’re here, you are able to do the same.