It’s Just High School

Putting Yourself First

Be kind, help others and use compassion. While they are all important, putting yourself above what we’ve been told since grade school is of the utmost importance. 

I’m not saying you should never help others. For instance, if an airplane were to ever require you to put an oxygen mask on, the flight attendant will always tell you to put your mask on first. Then they would ask you to assist a younger passenger, an older passenger, or someone who cannot put their own mask on.   

They tell you that because when you aren’t getting enough oxygen, you are unable to help the people who need it the most.

I’ve never been in that situation, but the same principle applies to everyday life. 

Say you just finished a Zoom meeting, only to open Snapchat to chats full of your classmates hungry for answers. Rather than writing your paper, you spend an hour responding to your chats. 

Then, you begin writing, already losing an hour of precious time. Suddenly, you’re up until midnight, ready to pull your hair out because of the work piling up. 

This is a reality for a lot of people, myself included. Let’s be honest, you’re slowly falling apart. 

I found myself helping my sister with her math, dropping whatever I was doing to answer her questions. I know she’s not trying to be annoying, and sometimes I can help her. But when you’re in the middle of a Zoom, and you’re talking to someone off-screen, people start to stare. They think that I’m not giving them my full attention. And they’re right. My sister’s math homework is important. To her. But, for me, my learning should be a priority over her learning. 

If you’ve come to realize that you are helping others a little too much, here are some key ideas to keep in mind when approaching the situation:

Self-care. 

It may seem simple, but it’s crucial to your ability to succeed. Take some time on Sunday to read a book that makes you smile, get some fresh air, watch an episode of your favorite show, or FaceTime the person you can tell anything. 

Journaling. 

It may seem intimidating if you’ve never done it before. Start with prompts like: What was the best part of your week? or What is your biggest concern right now? Even just five minutes a day can make a big difference. No one else is going to read it and when you’ve finished, your mind will thank you. 

Before you know it, you won’t be able to breathe because you didn’t put your mask on first. 

You only have yourself to fall back on. Continually helping others will leave you battered and bruised, socially drained, and running in circles. 

Flashback to a chilly night in March, right after DECA States. I melted onto my bed and felt so drained. I should have been thrilled, but instead, I saw a daunting stack of papers figuratively piling up. 

My mind raced, not even taking one second to celebrate my success and rest. All I could think about was weeks ahead that would take so much out of me. Track was starting soon, DECA ICDC was around the corner and club volleyball was finally starting to take off. 

Looking back at it, I realize that if I had just taken a day to recharge, go on a walk, sleep in, something, really anything, the rest of the week would have been a breeze. 

At the end of the day, it’s just high school.