How to Handle the Pressure of Grade 9

Entering high school. What an incredibly nerve-wrecking journey to set sail on! Out of my entire grade nine experience, the one thing that I vividly remember is the grade nine orientation day.   

Green and yellow striped school banners were hung across gym walls to boost school spirit. I could feel my heart pounding as I stood in the school hallways, along with approximately 200 more students, waiting for the teachers to let us into the gym for the orientation. Sweat trickled down my forehead as I awkwardly stood in the halls, searching for familiar faces from elementary school. When I could not find anyone, I started smiling at all the students near me in hopes of starting a conversation with someone. 

After that, throughout the school year, everytime I walked in the hallways, I became self-conscious. As if everyone was gazing at me. At that time I failed to recognize that no one actually was. They were just as self-absorbed in their own thoughts as I was. I wish I would have known this before.  

Actually, I did know this. In fact, everyone who knew I was going to high school had told me this before. But it was me who did not understand that they were right.  

There were a lot of things that I was not aware of going into grade nine. Like how to effectively manage my time, recognize the importance of a support group and trustworthy friends, and even how to structure a professional email. That is why I want to help you because I could not help myself.  

  1. Join school clubs. I may be reiterating what your teachers have already told you, but it is important that I do. Maintaining a good social life is vital for mental health. Having people to talk to, not just about studies, but some personal problems and dealing with stress together can be very helpful. It fosters a sense of belonging.  

If you think you are the only one who feels scared or uncomfortable to join school clubs, you are wrong. Everyone is scared to try something new. I remember when I (finally) gathered the courage to join my school’s Eco Club this year (10th grade) and my club members were all as nervous as me. They would never unmute themselves or turn on their cameras. So if you feel petrified to join a club or unmute yourself in a club meeting, always remember that you are not the only one who feels that way. 

Communication is an essential life skill that benefits all. But COVID-19 limits our ability to communicate with friends and people we have never met before. School clubs give you an opportunity to communicate with people with the same interests. Not only do your communication skills strengthen, but you also have the privilege to go on school field trips with your friends. 

In the future when you apply for a job, the employer would look at the amount of extra curricular activities you took part in high school. The more clubs you participate in (as long as your grades are consistent), the better because it shows you are hardworking and have strong work ethics. But make sure to not pressure yourself to commit to many activities. Do not feel the need to be always engaged in extra-curriculars if it makes you uncomfortable or if it is impacting your grades. Employers can also evaluate how effective your work ethics are by analyzing the extra curricular activities you participated in.  

2. Make plenty of friends. Having an active social life is the key to surviving high school. Not only surviving, but having someone who is also under the same level of stress as you and understands exactly what you are going through, someone who empathizes with you, makes the high school experience a little more enjoyable and carefree.  

3. If in-person teaching resumes, feel free to get lost in the halls, walk into the wrong classroom at the wrong time on your first day. Everyone around you expects you to mess up. I encourage you to make mistakes on your first day because you can get away with them. Nobody will be expecting you to be perfect. When you come back tomorrow, you will remember to not repeat your mistake and be able to find your classroom with ease.

4. Quadmesters are not exactly what you expect going into high school. But quadmesters are not difficult to keep up with if you remember these four key things: 

  • Do not procrastinate. It is common knowledge that when you hand in an assignment that you worked on for a week, you are likely to receive good grades. Rather than the assignment you left to finish till the last minute.  

Procrastination may not seem like a serious issue at first. When you procrastinate, you leave work to be completed at the last minute. 

Gradually, when procrastination becomes a habit, completing simple tasks such as brushing or showering can seem like extreme challenges. You hesitate when someone asks you to do something and make excuses to avoid doing work.  

Manage your time wisely. Dedicate equal amounts of time to study each subject.   

Learn how to prioritize work. Focus on an assignment assigned for today, rather than trying to complete the work assigned for tomorrow because you want to get rid of that subject’s homework. Always remember, regardless of the subject, teachers are always looking for quality over quantity. Teachers do not grade your work based on how long it took you to complete it, but rather on your knowledge of the content.

Everything feels better after a well deserved rest. Do not stay up till two a.m. working on an assignment because your brain won’t function properly due to the lack of sleep. Make sure to get at least six hours of sleep everyday. Your body and mind cannot function unless you give it what it requires.  

During my Orientation, I was walking through that hallway full of hormonal teenagers, as my heart was pounding in my chest. I remembered to draw a smile on my face because someone had told me to smile through the pain. So if you ever feel anxious about anything, remember that I was constantly smiling at strangers for 30 minutes.  


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