What Mindfullness Means

Sophia McCrimmon, Editor-in-Chief

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Despite the fact that we are only a few short weeks into the school year, many Maggie Walker already find themselves feeling the grind of their busy schedule; our lives have likely already become saturated with AP classes, extracurriculars, community service, and (for the most fortunate among us) college applications. At this school we seem to talk a lot about stress. We lament it and glorify it, write fiery editorials and private diatribes about it, hold mindfulness assemblies and pass out coloring books to ebb its power, but it seems like the issue remains part of the fabric of the Maggie Walker experience, a defining pillar of our time here in high school.

 

I am not one to argue that education should be easy, and I don’t think it’s in the interest of any academic community to coddle its students. Challenging yourself is crucial to personal and intellectual growth, you’ll never know your true limits until you push them. But there’s a big difference between working hard to explore your intellectual interests and stretching yourself so thin that you aren’t able to learn much of anything.

 

The Maggie Walker ethos can often seem to emphasize quantity over quality when it comes to academic experiences; we’re encouraged to take on as many AP classes and extracurricular leadership roles as possible, despite the fact that this can leave our focus fractured. Putting all of your passion, time, and energy into a few endeavors that sit close to your heart is undeniably better and more productive than putting minimal effort into a plethora of different obligations and leaving yourself without any time for the things you truly care about. Our activities and classes are meant to enhance our lives and make us excited about learning, but when we fall into the trap of overloading they seem to do the opposite. It’s no wonder so many students end up feeling stressed and overwhelmed.

 

Thus as we come together time and time again to talk about the meaning of stress and wellness, keep in mind that your personal health has to do with more than breathing exercises and adult coloring books. Rather than just focusing on measures to ease stress within our student body, it’s time we think about the root of that stress in the first place- namely, a culture which encourages students to bulk up on rigor instead of seeking truly rewarding academic experiences. When we are taught to believe that an interesting elective isn’t worth the unweighted grade, or that being a half-hearted leader of a club is better than not leading at all, or that unhealthy behavior is merely a side effect of success rather than an obstacle to it, it’s no wonder some students are falling apart at the seams.

 

It’s important to take care of yourself, but remedial measures only go so far if you’re still making choices which leave you drained and depressed. Take a step back and think about what kind of classes truly challenge you intellectually, consider which extracurriculars have really helped you grow as a person, and remind yourself that those experiences are infinitely more valuable than APs and prestige.

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