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Moira the Explorer: Punching Elephants

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As a high school senior in her first quarter of the year I have noticed a very large, very obtrusive, very threatening elephant, in every single room I have entered since August: the elephant of college applications.

This elephant is staring my entire grade in the face, taking up room by the pencil sharpener, breathing loudly during math tests, standing in the way of the exits, and causing a general feeling of unease. It’s been causing so much trouble that people have started to discuss the application process: quietly, nervously, but consistently. With that elephant in every room it’s hard to escape the thought.

Aside from that time I had my heart broken in sixth grade, having to apply to college has so far been the most distressing thing I have endured in my eighteen years of life. For that I am lucky. But—I am still a tad stressed out. As most people are. Applying to college comprises of activities that no human being likes: taking lots of long tests, trying to make oneself sound impressive, and thinking about the future.
As I’ve been spending more and more quality time with the common app, and reading countless brochures, and making lists, I’ve developed a few coping skills for the stress. For dealing with the elephant. Below is a handy-dandy list (because I can’t get enough of them).

1. Make an Ally
Pick one person to talk to about applications. Maybe two. Sign a treaty detailing your alliance. Have that person be your go-to when you want to discuss ideas for essays, or decisions, or just complain. Do the same for them.

2. Make things up
For everyone else who asks you where you’re applying, and how far you are on the application, and what your top choice is–make it up. Some people ask just to make conversation. Say you’re looking abroad. Or you’re going to clown college. When you know your confirmed plans you can tell people, but discussing big decisions with strangers and acquaintances can sometimes lead to freak outs.

3. Eat things
I like froyo. And chocolate. And bagels. Apparently stress eating is a bad habit, or a sign of mental instability but it’s fine.

4. Do one thing at a time
Pick one college application thing to do a day. Don’t try to knock it all out at once. You will cry. One day is your essay. Only your essay. The next day is recommendations, and nothing pertaining to your essay. This allows you to accomplish things, but not melt into a puddle.

5. Run around
Exercise makes everything better: it releases endorphins that improve your mood. For me exercise is swimming, and I always feel infinitely better after swim practice. Sure you may be tired or sore the next day, but it’s worth it.

6. Punch the elephant in the face
My final advice- clock the proverbial elephant right between the eyes. Letting yourself get exceedingly stressed out about something that is inevitable (such as applying to a college or trade school) is not beneficial to anyone. Acknowledge the elephant, and roll with it.

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The School Newspaper of Harriton High School
Moira the Explorer: Punching Elephants