Dear Future President,
I’ve grown up in an environment where working towards a specific goal my entire life was normal. That goal being taking full advantage of my education and hopefully achieving something with it in the future that will benefit me and lead me to success. I’ve sat for approximately 10,000 hours of my life so far in a classroom being lectured at. That time has been spent doing everything in my power, to complete the tasks asked of me. This includes, acing the assignments and assessments given to me that require countless hours of studying and preparation at home. The act of pushing myself to be better and to exert all of my energy and effort by taking the advanced “honors” courses is nothing new. The main purpose for my participation in the multiple activism projects, both required and not, has not been for the benefit of others, instead it has been to improve my college application. The projection of my opinions has been so loud and not for my hope to be heard, but for the hope that my teachers opinions will agree with my own, so that I can get a “good grade”. I’ve signed up for clubs, extracurriculars and sports for that perfect college application, not for myself. That’s not all I do though. No. I strenuously pull all nighters or even just stay up late at night studying and completing homework and projects each day. As a matter of fact, I’m doing that right now. It’s 3:49 in the morning and I just woke myself up from a half an hour nap to write to you this letter and on a topic that I’ve written about too many times to count, a topic that's become so irrelevant to me because no matter how much I write and how convincing it is, I’m still not heard. I feel like I’m wasting my words at this point. My sleep deprived body runs on coffee at the age of fifteen and I can’t remember the last time I didn't feel like a bottle of Coke or a cup of coffee was saving me from falling asleep in class. Don’t worry, I know that you think that’s normal. It’s not. I’m constantly stressed but I can’t get help because honestly, it seems that all adults are completely oblivious and don’t understand the pressure and stress we actually endure. Times have changed, and what they view as “stressful” is no longer relevant because it has gotten so much worse for us. Reflecting upon it, I do this all with the hopes that it’ll get me where I want to go, which ironically, I don’t even know where that is. I do it for the life my family wants me to live, I do it for myself because I can’t let all of my effort and work go to waste. If I’m going to jeopardize my mental and physical well being now, for my education, I would sure hope that it benefits me in the future.
I’m supposed to write to you a solution to this problem, I was supposed to list statistics and prove a point. My point is that, it’s obvious that my education is meaningful and it’s going to take me places in life. I wouldn’t work for it if I knew that it didn’t. What’s appalling and such a problem is that, I’m consciously damaging my well being, physical and mental, and at an unknown cost considering my future is mainly chance. Did you know that teens need about 8 to 10 hours of sleep each night to function best? It’s probably one of those statistics that you know but don’t think much of because why would a teen be getting less than 8 hours of sleep? I bet you didn’t know that the answer to your question is that, most teens do not get enough sleep. Coincidentally, one study found that only 15% of teens reported sleeping 8 1/2 hours on school nights. I can confirm. After all, I’m typically one of the other 85%. Tonight I clocked 1 hour and 43 minutes of choppy sleep. What am I doing you ask? Being lazy and procrastinating maybe? No. I don’t have that kind of time. I’ve been participating in a course to get my drivers license and then I come home to skip dinner, have myself a good ol’ cup of joe and then I go straight to work on all of what I previously mentioned.
I don’t have a solution for you. I can’t just say “Change when school starts!” because that only hurts me, I have to have time for those clubs, extracurriculars, sports, and the occasional acts of activism, after all. I’m also not going to say “Lighten the workload, change the curriculum, eliminate homework and tests.” because I obviously need the curriculum and the workload comes with it. I don’t have a problem with homework because practice makes perfect and tests just assess what I know. Quite frankly I don’t want the system to change because I have it worked out to my benefit. All you could do to help me is to make it easier, but is that going to actually help me? Here’s my proposal. If you just skimmed through this letter, reread it. I’ve stressed my point, I’ve shared my story. Don’t let the kids who are innovative and intelligent burn out because high school was too much. We have so much ahead of us. We, like you, are going to be running this country one day, but we can’t passionately do that to the best of our ability if we all end up quitting because the American Education System ruined us in high school. Don’t let us fall vulnerable to being less than we can be. Don’t let us be addicted to caffeine and think that a normal and healthy amount of sleep is a nap in between doing homework. Help us get through high school, address the issues that concern our actual well-being, the ones we can’t recover from after we graduate. I hope that in some way I’ve changed your mind through writing this letter. We are the next generation of your country, and you’re setting us up to fail.
Do something about it.
Teen Sleep Deprivation