Why we are all American Idiots


Billie Joe Armstrong wearing a graded hoodie, sleeping in the hallway by Isabel Park

It seemed like it was not so long ago that you’d hear cheery conversations, characterized by those eager to catch up with their friends again, echoing around the high school hallways, surrounded by an aura of teenage excitement. It was during those first few weeks that nearly everybody seemed glad to be back to school. Of course, they’re not to blame, everyone is a victim of the popular saying “new year, new me.” It’s a unanimous truth, and even if you try to hide it, there’s no use in going against the tiny swelling feeling that burns up your chest, scratching the walls of your heart with a muffled “this is your chance to strip off the shame of your past”. Following that, you unwittingly accept the little voice inside you, put on your best piece of clothing and get new stationery. You even consider taking a shower the night before and waking up a whole 10 minutes before your alarm sounds. Then, as you walk out your door and into the world, you feel that boiling pride inside for managing to do so well that morning, and you make a mental note to always repeat that routine and be the best person you can be every single day. And then, the next day, you miss your bus.

It has been about a month since school started, and, to most of us, vacation feels like that one time you stayed up until 4 AM finishing an essay, but then had a fever dream where a muffled version of Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds was playing 15 miles away from you. High school has become so tiring we can barely make it to the fourth week without feeling like J.K Rowling’s Dementors are floating behind us all the time. Especially for the students undergoing the “self-chosen” torturous dungeon that is the IB diploma. I write “self-chosen” in between quotation marks because, on one hand, you have the choice to take the IB diploma or not; on the other hand, if you choose not to, you’d have to be the God of emotional strength, and by that I mean you have to be the Olympic champion of bodybuilding in your psyche, because the downpour you’ll have to face will be even bigger than your maxed-out mental power.

Choosing to live a stress-free high school life? Worry not! All you have to do is face the disappointment of your parents, the inability to pursue higher education, and the consequential future abode: a box underneath a bridge. There’s no escaping, it’s society’s prophecy. But of course, if you are lucky enough to be able to live a relaxed 4 years and be unbothered by societal standards, or if you’re one of those people that enjoy the thrill of a challenge and see the IB as one, then good for you! However if you read the previous sentences, sighed and said “me too”, then you have the deepest of my apologies.

Certainly, the entire high school is suffering; the freshmen were just introduced to high school life, sophomores have more workload than they did last year, juniors are being introduced to the IB diploma, and seniors have to choose what they want to do for the rest of their lives in a span of a few months. Stress is inevitable at this phase of our lives. But let’s look at it more positively, so that we don’t all fall down the hole of eternal desperation. There is The Dark Side of the Moon, but there is also the bright side of the moon. To not sound like I’m a bag of complaints, which I am, the good news is that most of us probably aren’t these masochists pawned by society to be compelled to attend school. Most of us enjoy being in school and learning, to a certain extent. We are, by nature, curious people who find studying pleasurable, if not for all the stress that it causes. Who hasn’t felt satisfied when they finally got a grasp of that mathematical concept they’d been struggling to understand for the longest time? We do like it when our neurons click together. But for the time being, and probably for the rest of the month, everyone is nauseated by the thought of working hard, pulling all-nighters to study for summatives, and submitting essays. As evidence, you can walk down the hallways and mistake people for bags because they’re curled up in their hoodies taking a last minute nap. Clearly, it can be said that the mood for high school right now is no more and no less than Green Day’s infamous song Wake Me Up When September Ends.