Michael He

March 6, 2021

Who Doesn't Love Senioritis?

This is a random memo for my friends and myself on the subject of senioritis, for high school seniors.

I love senioritis.

If you don't know what it is, here is the
definition, dad .

Why? You just do nothing, be lazy, and waste time...

Someone will say that. Sometimes that's you.

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People who say these things often don't have skin in your life. If people in your life are giving you judgement without making an effort to understand your perspective, that's a bad sign. I recommend keeping some distance.

Plus, that statement is just stupid. Other than satisfying the speaker's ego, it does no good whatsoever. The recipient will never think, okay, this person (adult or peer) just nullified my current existence and mode of operation, so I better bust my ass to shove a middle finger in their face.

In fact, I may slack off even more after hearing such negative comments.

Think about the negative opinions on senioritis. Who make them in public so loudly?

Parents, teachers, other people's parents, highly ambitious peers (who don't really belong in your age cohort), the mass media, and so on.

Hey, it's not that I want to be lazy forever. I just need a break (hopefully in Hawaii). Just a little bit.

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Very often, people lose track of the game they are playing. This is also true for many high school students, because they know something feels wrong, but they don't know what is wrong. This may not apply to every student, but some DO burn out due to excessive demands from the college admissions process and adolescence. It's the finest example of forcing an infinite game (education and development) into a finite game (aka holistic review on college applications).

I remember those four-hour sleeps, half-a-dozen AP exams, preparing applications for fifteen universities, on top of spending hours every day on sports and extracurricular activities. In hindsight, it's really silly, but no one told me, this game is crazy.

When Dave Chappelle talked about people being trapped, that hits me hard. We are minors, what can we do?

When double-digit percentage of U.S. college students have some form of mental health conditions or straight-up depression, shouldn't those in power take a pause and say, What the hell happened? What should we NOT do anymore?

Aside from family background, higher education determines too much of one's life trajectory. Peter Thiel's metaphor of a super-track is my wake-up call. He says, for many young people, college is the path to take when they have no idea what to do with their lives.

Note: I am mentioning Thiel, due to his stance on higher education. This reference does not endorse his worldview in politics or other debatable subjects.

I feel I was personally very guilty of this; you don't know what to do with your life, so you get a college degree; you don't know what you're going to do with your college degree, so you get a graduate degree. In my case, it was law school, which is the classic thing one does when one has no idea what else to do. I don't have any big regrets, but if I had to do it over I would try to think more about the future than I did at the time... You cannot get out of student debt even if you personally go bankrupt, it's a form of almost like indentured servitude, it's attached to your physical person for the rest of your life. - Peter Thiel

Senioritis, or the February to August of high school's last year, has the potential to be a great period in anyone's eighteen-years of life. This may be one of the few possible getaway cards, considering how education is essentially an arms race between families. There's not much breathing room for students to do nothing, when that is exactly the thing to do.

Of course, the intense competition does not apply to everyone. Some can choose not to partake, and some can opt-out. I'm happy for them. Even though I would like this crazy reality to stop, changing such social phenomenon is out of my scope (for now).

School already destroys many people's drive to learn interesting things. I say senioritis is an amazing counter, if not a reset. It may even get kids to enjoy writing again.

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When I graduated high school, I spent the summer in Spain. It was a hell of a trip! For the first time, I realized it's okay and quite lovely to take a break and just be. That helped me time and time again with anxiety in college.

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I spent my senioritis on recovering from excessive burn-out. No regrets for taking care of myself, but I wish more students can enjoy senioritis and find it fulfilling.  Here are things I will tell my past self, which may help current seniors as well.

Start reading again, whatever you want. Everyone reads a lot in elementary school, but not anymore. If YouTube is more interesting, go for it. The only rule is to browse actively and be in control. You have already gone through enough passive test prep and honors courses. Passivity is not bad, but it numbs you.

A book I enjoyed during that time is Battle Royale. It's a beautiful book about friendship, humanity, and how messed up things can get (or already are). I also loved reading Haruki Murakami's short stories in Blind Willow, Sleepy Women before bed. 

Do something meaningful to you. Hobbies and projects are fantastic, but if you don't have one, get a job that pays minimum-wage (since it's unlikely you can get good paying jobs at that age). You will understand the value of internal motivation and/or the value of a dollar. You may even view filing taxes differently!

Spend honest and open time with yourself and others. Being inauthentic is so prevalent nowadays (thanks, social media), it would be nice to just relax, breathe, and not fake anything. Plus, you can't really learn anything about yourself, if you buy into the fake persona. 

Practical skills are great for this time. Driving, cooking, doing chores, writing neatly by hand, and so much more. Might as well, right? I know plenty of students, who don't know how to do laundry in college.

Have fun! I don't think the teen movies are great role models, though I do like the youthful spirits. Just do things reasonably, don't go to the hospital, the police station, or the like. Don't do American Vandal type of stuff, even though it is hilarious. 

In the end, I want to share Paul Graham's excellent graduation speech (that he never got to give). It's much better than what I wrote here and serves as my inspiration for this piece. 

I wish you happiness.

Warm regards,
Michael

P.S: if you have any question, feel free to reach out. My email is [name of this blog] @hey.com