How you can maximize your high school experience

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ART BY KAYTE CHIEN

By COLLEEN GAPUZAN
STAFF WRITER

 Are you really making the most out of your high school experience?

 If you answered “no” to the undeniably cliche question above, allow me to elaborate.

 In a highly competitive culture, we increasingly forget why high school should be memorable in the first place. High school can mean something different for different people, but to truly make the best out of it, we must not simply plan but embrace risks and take a step out of what we are usually used to.

 To visualize, theater has always been one of my biggest passions and throughout my years in Catstyles Theatre, my passion for acting has increased tremendously. Fast forward to this school year, I am in the after-school winter production spending over 100 hours at rehearsals with the people who are individuals I cannot imagine my high school experience without.

 However, my high school career was not always like this. Nearing the end of my sophomore year, I was hesitant to join knowing that it would take up an immense amount of my time. Not to mention, I would need to establish a healthy balance between junior year’s overwhelming workload, which would be difficult to manage with a full-time production on my to-do list.

 Amidst my dilemma, I remember two of my senior friends telling me about their challenging Advanced Placement classes and hectic schedules before they graduated. Despite their workload, they were involved in multiple extracurriculars—and get this, they did not join to simply put them on their college applications: they joined for the experience, in which they spent hours and hours doing what they loved—with people who went from strangers to friends who ultimately became family.

 Respectfully, I took my friends’ consultations to heart and risked spending extra time doing what I am passionate about. While some may think we are limited to doing certain tasks, students’ experiences are worse if they do not participate in activities they enjoy. My friends from drama are living proof that not everything has to revolve around academics. Branching out into different extracurriculars and exploring the world beyond academics enhances our experience by allowing us to broaden our perspectives. In addition, by exploring our interests, we interact with others with similar passions and potentially build friendships outside of our usual circle. To illustrate, through the production, the special bond created between me and my friends is something that is truly irreplaceable. From the constant encouragement and support to the nonstop inside jokes, my time spent with these genuine, raw individuals has impacted me in the best way possible, and that is worth far beyond the initial risk.    

 Needless to say, my grades are not top notch. However, working on the winter production has allowed me to not only to grow as an actor, but propelled me to step out of my comfort zone with people who are as passionate about theater as I am.

 Essentially, my experience in acting has also changed who I am as a person, bolstering my work ethic and discipline. Dedicating countless hours on productions taught me the value of communication in large groups. Of course, academics are still my top priority and I have come to know the value of balancing academics and extracurriculars. However, it does not have the same impact of doing what you wholeheartedly love. As I spend more time during rehearsals, I was able to learn more about myself as a person that I could not have experienced from reading any form of literature or English textbook.

 As human beings, our initial instinct is to choose the way that is easiest or what makes us most comfortable. Instead of going for what we truly want, our fears of facing the unknown hold us back. This might sound like something you would see sewn on a pillow or inscribed on a coffee mug, but the act of taking risks—delving into things not initially planned—is what makes life more memorable.

 In the end, in order to fully enjoy high school, you have to find what you love and engage in extracurriculars that ultimately make you happy. Whatever it may be—whether it be trying out for the softball team, auditioning for the school play or volunteering around the community—choosing to involve yourself in activities that you are passionate about will not only enrich your experience in high school, but in life as well—trust me.

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