10 Tips to Thrive Not Just Survive: Junior Year

When high schoolers gather around the campfire, don't expect to hear stories of a faceless-ax man or werewolves run wild. No, with teens you’ll hear horror stories from junior year.

Yet, despite the hellish tales of the Class of 2019, junior year doesn't have to be so arduous. With these 10 tips, the incoming class can expect to thrive, not just survive.

     1. Don't Stress It

All too often, students stress over the demands of junior year. This operates in a positive feedback loop: the more you stress, the more stressed you become; the more stressed you become, the more you stress. This cycle results in lots of wasted energy.

Reducing your stress junior year is simple; it's all about perspective. Consider how much you worried about assignments in middle school. Something like assigned reading may have seemed mountonus at the time, but after years of doing it, the work becomes commonplace. You can expect to develop the same perspective of junior year down the road. Having this realization early helps one cope with the tasks at hand.

With this mindset, don't write off the difficulty of the work you are doing. The point is to make stressing more manageable. Acknowledge it’s hard, but realize this is not the epitome of difficulty. By doing this you brush off stress and save your energy.

     2. Try New Things

High school is unique because it provides a supportive environment where students can fail. You survey a wide range of courses, have ample time for extracurriculars, and are surrounded by people your age — it's like high school is the a petri dish prepared to foster new lifestyles.

Yet all too often, high schoolers float through, barely taking advantage of the opportunities in front of them. Come junior year, people adopt the mindset that “it's too late now.” They couldn't be more wrong.

Junior year is as good a year as any to try new things. Try out a new club; volunteer somewhere different; even change up the classes you would normally take. The reality is, there are only two more years to be in such a great environment to fail in.

Trying new things doesn't mean you have to commit to them in the long run. Give it some time, but if your personal experiment isnt working out, it is more than ok to drop it. The important thing is that you pivot and try something else.

     3. Workshop Everything

There is a saying that success is the product of “failing forward.” What this means is, as opposed to shrinking from the inevitable pitfalls of junior year, put yourself in opportunities where you fail and learn from it.

Failing and reflecting is a component of the design process of living, a term coined by Bill Burnett And Dave Evans, professors at Stanford University. The process an approach to life that involves workshopping different aspect of your life — whether that be the way you get ready from school or how you study for tests. First you make a “model,” in essence putting forth a way of going about something. After employing the model, reflect on what happened and use this to try again. And again. And again.

Inherited in this style of living is failure. Without it, the forward motion wouldn't be possible.

Employing this approach little by little into your life lets you find ways to make the best of each and every facet of your life.

    4. Treat Yo Self

Treating yourself right is perhaps the most basic but most overlooked thing come junior year. It’s not rocket science, but when you are at your best you do your best.

This means getting enough sleep each night. Now for each person it may look different, but according to the National Sleep Foundation, “teens need about 8 to 10 hours of sleep each night to function best.” Set an alarm on your phone to let you know when to get ready for the night and try to stick to it — in the long run getting enough sleep is more important than finishing that paper.

Aside from sleeping, eating right is important. You don't have to become vegan or swear off sugar, but you should be conscious of what you consume. See how you feel after bingeing Cheetos vs. snacking on some almonds and you will begrudgingly admit diet is essential to performing well. Try cutting down on processed foods and sugars; eat more fruits and veggies; even try a new diet. In the end, it's what makes you both happy and healthy that is important.

   5. Nuture Your Emotional Health

Taking some time for yourself can seem counterintuitive, but the time it takes to maintain your emotional health is better front-loaded.

If you aren't in tune with your emotions, you'll find yourself prone to mood swings. Without finding a way to be stable, your sentiments will be based on the things going on around you which, let's face it, sometimes suck.

So, if you have the sudden urge to sit in a park and listen to music, why not? If you want to go try climbing up the canyon, sure! Doing random things that keep you feeling good will keep your emotional health high which helps make junior year not devolve into a hellscape.

   6. Be a Pathmaker

Coming from Central Oregon, you've most likely realized the opportunities afforded to us out here are not as diverse as those you might find in an urban area. Nevertheless, you have the power to change that, it'll just take more work.

That's where being a pathmaker comes into play.

If there is a passion you have that isn't present at RPA, find a way to bring it to the school. It can be as big as starting a club or as small as getting a few friends to try it with you. Maybe you love poetry and want to share that with the school; talk with an English teacher and start up a group. Perhaps you think its wild no one can salsa, I’m sure you could convince a few friends to get out and learn a few steps.

By pathmaking, you not only create venues for your passions — you contribute something that enriches the community we all share.

   7. Look for Sucess and Mimic It

Let’s face it, someone is always going to be better at something than you, but if you're trying to succeed, other people's triumphs are an opportunity as opposed to an inhibitor — you just have to learn from them.

This means to be successful you must seek out successful people and try to mimic their practices. Sure, what works for Person A might not work for Person B, but if it's proven to work you may as well try.

Seeking out trends in the successful people around you can illuminate the path to success. So if someone gets a higher score than you on a test, ask them what they did to prepare. If you can not handle the responsibility of both dance and school, ask someone who seems to be easily balancing extracurriculars with schoolwork.

In some way, we all can be teachers, but not all people are as keen to share it, so the burden falls upon you to look for others successes and recreate it.

   8. Limit Screen Time 

Your grandparents may be convinced your phone is melting your brain; however, while their Luddism can be annoying, they have a point.

All too often teens find themselves glued to their phones. Time the amount of time you spend on your phone for one day and the truth will hit you hard: you’re burning through precious time looking at cat memes.

To be successful doesn't require adopting your grandparents' bygone ways, but it does require you tapping into those five hours scrolling. Set time limits for yourself; delete social media apps; even, dare I say, ask your parent to hold your phone for you so you can get some work done.

Your social life won't die if you aren’t in a state of constant vigilance. Work time should be distraction free.

   9. Don't Shy From a Challenge

There is a lot you're going to have to juggle junior year. School, extracurriculars, testing, maybe even a job. When all is said and done, it's a lot of work, but that isn't inherently negative. Taking on a challenge is rewarding, it just means work.

Look for some areas where you could squeeze in an extra challenge, be it an AP class or taking up extra hours at work. Whichever way you choose to apply yourself, give it your all. In doing this you will be able to test your potential and expand upon it

As long as you take on projects you feel passionate about, the workload will end up being something you can manage.

   10. Know Sucess is Social

Being successful isn't something that happens in a vacuum; you need friends.

Take time to go out with friends and make memories. Sign up for a challenging class together and vale la pena. Sit down together with a pot of tea and study. Go to Sheri’s at 11:00 at night. What will matter more than some project grade ten year from now is the bonds you have made

Besides, there is something so comforting about being able to look to someone and know two things: they are going through what you are going through and you can count on them for support.