Most high school seniors experience “senioritis” as they navigate the pressures of finishing high school and the uncertainty about their future. This week, Dr. Grauer discusses his own feelings of “senioritis” and how he manages it.
Good Medicine For Senioritis
I think I may have senoritis.
- You don't care about grades.
- You’re feeling anxiety and conflict about the future.
Is that me? It could be. I think grades are a pretty bad idea in many respects. And just thinking about all the people that I disagree with brings this time of conflict to the top of mind.
I may ask a senior. Our high school seniors are top experts—they’ve been on it for 12 years now. I already know that if you ask seniors all over the country, they’ll tell you why they to go to school: you go because it is mandatory, or so you can get into college, please a teacher or parent, or get a good grade, and end up “being something.”
Seniors in the class of 2022 have been doing this drill for all too long, and now, on top of it, nearing the end of it, they find themselves with “This!”
You know what this is. This time in the world. This time of conflict. It’s political, but its cardiovascular, too, and its neuro-biological. All of it makes me feel like a victim if I let it.
This time of conflict seems to captivate our bodies and minds and spirits if we let it. Everywhere I go people try to convince me that we need to be exhausted and demoralized, that we have no choice—people I respect and like are acting this way, and I know how easy it is to access this perspective and this feeling. How easy it is to forget to get out in the natural world and be amazed again. It makes me want to scream, “Snap out of it!”
I’m not motivated to live in everyone else’s exhaustion, much less in this this global society of floods up in Canada and miles and miles of forests being torn out in Brazil. I'm not motivated to live in the world where angry people lie about elections and will say and do anything just to win.
I have senioritis.
I’m not motivated to obey people who tell me we can’t study the books we love in school or the work of our best scientists because they are threats to our way of life.
For me, health means finding the connection, not the conflict. This is how I treat my senioritis.
I’m not motivated to feel separate. If someone is in my community, and they are not overmedicated, they are enough like me. They can sit down with me, or surf with me.
I listen to the exhausted people, and I find myself being taken in, and in those moments I can’t even imagine how anyone would not feel all this anxiety and depression—the conflict is way too easy to access. It threatens to consume me.
I close my eyes, I search for some place where there is freedom from all this conflict. I cannot find it in our governments or our large public institutions. I cannot find it in any of the reasons for the exhaustion all around. I can only find it in myself and in my community. I remember to smile.
Being a part of a close-knit community provides new levels of closeness and connection. Small schools are loving. People in small schools argue less, feel safer, and show up much more. Students in small classes are looking into the eyes of their teachers and peers, and the listening replaces the noise. I know the oak is born in the acorn and I know the future is born in the connecting that is happening right now in all these eyes..
Outside, rates of medication are rising fast. This is the quick fix when you can’t fix your community or environment, you just blame the inner recesses of your mind—you medicate. You trick your brain into coping in an environment of conflict. “This is the real world,” you tell yourself. You have no choice. Rather than remain a victim, rather than be depressed, you send in the prescribed chemical messengers to damp down your wild amygdala, so that none of this matters.
For my part, I prefer senioritis: I don’t work for grades. I don’t work for egos, and I don’t work for governments. I work for connection. I work in a small school and my only job is to help create connections for people, pathways for peaceful interaction, hope.
"Hope is not the conviction that something will turn out well. It is the certainty that something is worth doing no matter how it turns out." I wish I said that, but Vaclav Havel did, and I can feel the senioritis lifting.
Have courage. All this conflict all around the world is not your life. Reset button: My life is in my community, and my responsibility is to you—there is no higher authority or purpose. If you are also in that community, in any sense at all, let me know what you think you need.
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