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Work/Life balancing act

At Marlborough, caffeine is favored over water, sleep is out of the question and saying “I’m so stressed out!” is heard as often as “I’m hungry, when is lunch?” Nationwide, jitters from 5-hour Energy drinks, homework all-nighters and panic attacks have all become regular occurrences among teenagers in America.

Marlborough recently made an effort to bring attention to the side effects of stress by screening the movie Race to Nowhere , a documentary about how the extreme pressure to get into college is affecting high school students. It’s nice to know that the administration is promoting conversations about why girls are willing to sacrifice everything down to their own personal well-being for school.

In fact, the administration is making every effort to help us find a balance between work and recreation. They’ve spiced up the daily monotony with Spirit Week and the Hunger Games, they’ve given us a day off this Friday to get some rest and regain some sanity and they’re making changes to the schedule with our best interests in mind, though whether this last change will help decrease our stress has yet to be determined. The School’s attention to the issue of work/life balance shows that we didn’t fill out those surveys last year for nothing.

But if our level of stress really is going to decrease, we the students need to take it upon ourselves to loosen the lid on the pressure cooker that is Marlborough. We need to manage our time wisely, choose our activities carefully and resist the easy path of complaints and procrastination.

So often, Marlborough girls are guilty of trying to combine work and play, a combination that works about as well as oil and water. If you’re watching TV while studying for your Euro test, have Facebook open while you’re researching your country project, or are incessantly texting while doing your math worksheets, the chances of you getting your homework done quickly (and having time for interacting with other humans in person) are probably slim to none. However, if you make the conscious choice to hit the books without distractions, assignments that seem to drag on might just take a little less time.

We know: it’s harder than it sounds to cut out distractions. However, if you’re one of the people cringing at the thought of having to watch your favorite TV show the night after the new episode airs, consider this: If, for the sake of your own sanity, you need time in your daily schedule to relax, then maybe taking five APs, joining the soccer team and aiming for 100 hours of community service is not the right decision for you.

There isn’t some golden ratio of how many hours of work and how many hours of play make for a decent quality of life, because every student is different. Each of us needs to know our own limits and plan our commitments accordingly. Although the pressure to take on too much and stress too much will always be there, we can’t give into it. As the cheesy anti-drug commercials say, we each need to “stay above the influence.” If we want to remain sane, we can’t compete with our friends in a vicious battle for the title of “Most Mental Breakdowns/Tests/Quizzes per Week.” We can’t sign up for an honors course just because our entire grade seems to be in honors math. We can’t let the pressure get to us. Because even if Marlborough brought in the best of the best self-help speakers to teach us how to live balanced lives, in the end, it is the student who chooses to value her GPA over her wellness, or vice versa.