By Cara Chenoweth
January is the time of senioritis, baggy sweatpants and wearing Adidas slides without socks. It’s seniors’ second-to-last finals, but it feels like the first. Except instead of being a nervous freshman, you’re an exhausted, downtrodden senior. Just senioritis, right?
Google defines senioritis as “A supposed affliction of students in their final year of high school or college, characterized by a decline in motivation or performance.” It happens to most seniors and is accepted as the norm. But what’s worrying, as someone who has spent a lot of time in therapy and recognizing my own symptoms, is that this so-called senioritis sounds like depression.
Equally worrying is that most students are aware of this. When the education system and the health system sucks so much, it’s easier to blame it on a made-up disease. Every day, I hear some variation of “I’d rather die than be at school” followed by a chorus of “Me too.” Is this not concerning? Is student mental health trivial as long as you’re getting your precious seat time fulfilled?
Half of the classes in this school are 60% sitting around. I often leave class without feeling as if I learned anything. It’s hard not to daydream about what you would be doing instead at home. Some turn that dream into reality. They go home. They sleep.
“I think senioritis is a mix of just pure exhaustion and eagerness to leave. We’ve spent four years in this building going to classes we aren’t necessarily excited about or passionate and now we get to move on and kind of live a more independent life and that’s super exciting. But it can make it hard to feel motivated,” said senior Claire Arnold.
On top of grueling schedules, we also are expected to maintain a cheery energy at all times. “I get called lazy at home sometimes when I don’t do chores or feel like doing anything productive, which is frustrating when I spend five days a week working hard and getting things done as well as going to a job and then I’m still expected to come home and have a ton of energy,” Arnold continued. “It’s something lots of teenagers in high school experience, I think, and it’s frustrating to hear our generation be called lazy when all of our energy is just expected to be put into school and work.”
Studies have proven that customer service, or faking a positive attitude, takes a huge emotional toll on the brain. Why should we be expected to hold this up in our own homes?
This culture of accepting children’s depressive episodes as the norm is alarming and needs to change. It’s not just how it is. It impacts our learning and drive to succeed.
Is senioritis real or is it cleverly disguised as depression? (Photo courtesy of Inklingnews.)