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The Death of High School Passion: Preface
part 0: what is going on
A lot of seemingly troublesome problems in high school tend to work themselves out: AP and honor classes don’t end up being as disastrous as they sound on paper, sleep schedules and circadian rhythms adjust over time, and standardized tests are taken and gotten over with.
But one aspect of high school that’s only gotten more confusing and discouraging through the years is the holy quest of finding your passion.
Most of the discussion in high school surrounding this topic seems to revolve around these two questions:
How do we help kids feel less stressed about grades?
How do we encourage kids to pursue potential interests?
These are important questions, and there’s been a lot of effort made by schools, educators, and assembly speakers to provide greater opportunities for exploration and to support the idea of testing the waters.
Yet, from what I can tell, all this encouragement rarely translates to change; most students continue to bulldoze their way through high school with the same mindsets, with the same goals, and in the same ways as before.
In other words, nothing is happening.
Passion, it seems, has died.
Most people attribute this inactivity to a lack of drive, teenage laziness, or a general failure to see beyond our pubescent, hormonal noses. And sure, while there may be...let’s say varying degrees of truth to those assumptions, these are merely surface level assumptions that do not capture the true essence of this problem.
It’s not just that it’s hard to find a passion (it is), or that we don’t want to do something we love that’s separate from school (of course we do). Rather, it’s that two unacknowledged factors lie at the core of this problem: first, there are several intangible pressures actively discouraging us from looking for passion at all. And second, we misunderstand what passion is, as well as the process of finding one.
So, the aim of this series is simple: to explain these two factors in more depth, and to explore possible solutions to this mess of a situation.
A few disclaimers before we begin:
This is all based on my personal experiences and observations.
I live in the Bay Area and attend a fairly competitive public high school, so I can't directly speak for how things are elsewhere.
This is, admittedly, an uber-specific topic to address, so it is geared toward those who are looking to go to the best college that they can.
I will be mentioning college, which I have obviously not been to, so take my assumptions about it with several grains of salt.
Alright, let’s get started.