Dear Students,

How are you all doing? Good, I hope.

Exams are creeping up and I know a lot of you are worried about getting those A’s. I know you’ll pull all-nighters, chug those 5-energy drinks, hop up on coffee – anything to get those A’s your parents want you to get. But let me tell you something, grades don’t matter as much when you prioritize it over your mental health.

Do it for yourself and your future.

I’ve spent nights, trying to plan the perfect lesson for you all. The times I’ve walked into my classroom right after the bell rings and it’s a freaking zoo; no one is sitting, there are smushed grapes on the floor, there’s a puddle because someone had an impromptu water fight. I look around and say, what a great day to be alive. Nevertheless, I put on a smile on my face and tell you that we are going to have a great afternoon.

I love hearing your stories because it makes me think of mine. You are all an extension of me. The worries, the panics, the ‘end of the world’ feeling – I try and keep my composure so I don’t set you off. But believe me, I have the same insecurities as you. I guess you only start to notice people when you see parts of yourself in them. Maybe that’s why I had such a hard year – I could relate to each and every one of you so I had to face my demons head on.

Social media isn’t your world. As much as all of you think it is, there’s a world outside of that, full of laughter and friends. Put away your phones and pay attention to the people around you. Connect with them.

 “I stayed up all night for a math test”. It became so easy for me to dismiss your anxious feelings about a math test until I realized it was never about the test. It was what failing the test actually meant. It was knowing that you are capable of doing it but something was stopping you and you weren’t sure what it was. It was knowing that if you weren’t going to get 100, you weren’t going to try at all. Failing a test equated to not being good enough. But you know that’s not true, right?

I know you think ‘talking about your feelings’ isn’t cool. I don’t like to either, but you learn so much about yourself the moment you do. But that’s all you needed, a space and a choice to share. Everyone says millennials do things for attention, and don’t get me wrong, sometimes you make losing a pencil a red carpet event. You know yourself best. Slow down. Take a deep breath. You have all the time in the world to figure this out. And you will. So go ahead and find your purpose, and if you can’t, surround yourself with people that will help you.

Advocate for yourself because no one knows you better than you do. We all have a choice, even when it seems like we don’t, so please make good ones. I’m rooting for each and every one of you.

I miss you all dearly.

Ms. L

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