This I Believe

Gordon - Virginia Beach, Virginia
Entered on May 8, 2006
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: carpe diem, work

There’s more to Life than Work

Unlike most teenagers across the country, I attend a single sex boarding school in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains called Woodberry Forest. Although my school stresses excellence in all aspects of life, in what my headmaster has deemed “a life preparatory school,” it is hard to look past the absurdly high standards that Woodberry Forest holds for its students. Although it has become second nature to students here, going to classes on Saturday is as ridiculous an idea to most people as Arnold Schwarzenegger for president in 2008. Added to the pressure that Woodberry holds on its students is the pressure created by the students. In my class alone, there are forty nine students on honor roll with a GPA over 3.4 and thirteen students with a GPA over 4.0. With over forty percent of my class making honor roll, a 3.50 or a 3.60 suddenly isn’t as good it seems. On top of it all are our parents pushing us to play varsity sports, join the school play, and make straight A’s.

While walking through the library on a Saturday evening, I found a studious fourth former hard at work. Studying for the AP History exam which was more than three weeks away, the student had spent his entire Saturday preparing flash cards for his exam while many of his classmates had spent the day swimming at the river or playing Frisbee on the lawn.

With so much pressure coming in every direction, I’ve learned one important lesson: You can’t do everything! Despite what my college counselor or my advisor or even my parents tell me, it is impossible to do everything. Now I admit, I did try, and I mean everything. I joined every club I could, became a mentor, a tour guide, tried out for varsity sports, and spent countless hours in the library while most of my friends spent their time with friends. Although I don’t regret these choices, I have learned that there our more important things in life than getting good grades and playing varsity sports. The friendships that I will have gained at Woodberry will be life long, and the integrity which is ingrained into very student will guide us all in the future.

Now, a junior at one of the most prestigious and rigorous boarding schools in the country, I’ve learned to take a step back. Although I still work hard, my attitude has completely changed. If there was one thing I said to the sophomore that I found in the library that night that I wish someone had said to me when I was an under former, I hope it was, “Hey, take it easy. There’s more to life than work.”