Make it or break it

May 6, 2011, 1:21 p.m. | By Alison Kronstadt | 13 years, 2 months ago

Whether full of snowball fights or flowers, breaks from school are always full of promise. Students become progressively more restless as the calendar ticks down to winter or spring break, and we daydream endlessly about all the fun we're going to have over break, all the time we can spend in the non-academic world…

Once upon a time, April showers brought May flowers. Now they bring APs. Photo courtesy of Tolu Omokehinde.

Not this year. For both winter and spring break, exams have loomed like thunderstorm clouds over the sunny skies of our vacations. The lamentably short winter break fell just before midterms, and this year's right-after-break AP exams hit us with a punch that a Jersey Shore cast member would have envied. While conventional wisdom might be that this gives us more time to study, what it really does is give us more time to stress out during the few times of the year where school isn't the focus.

Now some people will say, "Hey, I did study over break,” but the only response for them is "Go back to the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy – you don't fool me.” Ok, there may be some people that studied over break, but there are only one of two ways that goes: you study the entire time and don't actually get a break, or every time you take a break from studying you feel guilty. Either way, this year's exam-takers are either depressed because they studied all break instead of having fun, or demoralized because they had fun instead of studying all break. Not a good mentality to have on test day.

In the midst of learning the subjunctive conjugations of irregular verbs, the fundamental theorem of calculus and the symbolism behind every syllable Shakespeare ever wrote, the unspoken understanding about high school is that you're supposed to pick up some life lessons as well. While you can learn valuable lessons – like how to tell from a teacher's body language whether you'll be able to go to the bathroom that class, or how to navigate Blair Boulevard with only minor injuries – there's evidence to show that sometimes high school seems to be trying to help us unlearn the principles of our childhood (and no, I'm not talking about "no biting.”)

As the wisest woman in the world – my mother – once told me, "Life is all about balance.” As more and more stress piles onto my sclerotic shoulders, I realize exactly how true those words are. As annoying as work can, it's a necessary part of life. Without learning how to work, we'll never be prepared to earn a living – but without fun, we'll never know how to live. The balance between work and fun ideally involves clear spaces between the two. Trying to put them together would be like combining steak and cookies: the two things are great separate, but become a mess together.

Some people will say that a more stressful spring break builds character, but honestly, high school is like character boot camp. At least let us really enjoy our leave.

Alison Kronstadt. Alison Kronstadt is happiest when she's making you laugh, so tell her her stories are funny or she'll cry. She has a lot of opinions and hopes you like to read them. She wrote her first bio when she was an awkward little junior and … More »

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