Senior Reflection: How I learned to love learning

Natalie Sadek, Online Editor

If you asked me my sophomore year if I enjoy high school, I would have laughed hysterically before going off about how I am counting down the days until graduation (I literally made a countdown in October 2016. At that point there were 973 days until the end of my misery).

Up until that point, high school had been about endless work, studying for tests for hours only to barely pass and hanging out with my friends only when I had  the energy. I was consumed by the narrative that in order to make high school mean something, I had to do it all; I had to be perfect.

As the dawn of junior year approached, I watched a Ted Talk by Sam Berns called “How to live a happy life,” and I had an epiphany that for the previous two years, I had been rushing through everything.

Here was this teenager who was suffering immensely with a life threatening disease known as progeria, yet he was so happy and had an enormous amount of passion for everything he did. He talked about how he focussed on all he could do with this life, despite limitation, and it was evident how happy he was with this mindset, just by the way he talked.

As corny as it sounds, I hadn’t been living in the moment. High school was nothing more than a chore. I realized I was wishing years of my life away and not actually living them.

So, I made an effort to take change my motives for doing school work. Instead of doing things for the grade, I made a conscious effort to learn for the sake of learning. As I was studying for a test the night before, I began to genuinely take time to understand what I was studying instead of cramming random facts. I let myself focus on what was interesting instead of focusing only on the grade. Instead of zoning out during class I began to be engaged during class and ask questions. I let my curiosity take precedence over my need for perfection.

It was hard at first — it can be pretty tricky to want to learn trigonometry — but soon I began to understand that during these four years of high school, I was lucky to have access to so much information about the world. There was so much for me to learn, but I had been so blinded by  stress that I didn’t even realize I was fortunate to have all this opportunity right in front of me.

I began to watch TedTalks every day and get inspired by people who had achieved so much and have changed the world. After years of not picking up a book that wasn’t required for school, I began to find myself at the library immersing myself in stories.

As high schoolers, we have had access to all the information we could ever want, and by not taking advantage of that, we are putting ourselves at a disadvantage. We are the new generation that is going to have to fix the political system and the environmental crisis, not to mention tackling  racism and all the other problems that plague our society. We have the opportunity to be the people that make a change, and I think that’s pretty cool.

Fortunately for us, this learning does not stop now nor will it ever stop. It begins with curiosity and being open to the experience, not the end point. Wherever you go next year, I hope you continue to learn about the world, learn about the people around you, learn about people who are different, and most importantly learn about yourself.

The idea of learning for fun sounds nerdy, I get it. But as soon as I realized that learning not only in school, but in life, is not about getting that 92.5 percent on that test, but rather it is about engaging in pursuit of knowledge about the world.