Religion and education are strange.

From a very young age, children are ushered into these institutions against their will. Particularly because they are both too young and too inexperienced to make the conscious choice on their own if either suits them.

Much like Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, children are born into such institutions and live their entire lives unknowingly trapped and sitting idly by without questioning whether or not what they know is the truth because the institutions have become second nature to them. Thus they do not change their lifestyle if it doesn’t align with their own personal beliefs and aspirations.

I’m a junior in high school. Besides breaks and extended weekends, I cannot remember a Sunday that didn’t go by without me getting ready for the following school day. Just like eating and sleeping, school has become second nature to me. Eat, sleep, school.

Recently, I switched up my daily routine. Instead of waking up for school, I wake up for myself. In an effort to find more hours in the day, I began waking up around 5 or 6am to go to the gym before school. Or to read. Or to shower. Or to work. Or to eat. By the time my peers are struggling to swing their legs out of bed, I’ve spent an hour at the gym, relaxed in the hot tub, took a shower, maybe stopped for breakfast at Sarkis or Panera, read a good book, and watched TV.

I’ve never been a morning person, and I still wouldn’t call myself that (more often than not I don’t go to bed until around midnight or later). However, simply by waking up for myself instead of for school, my outlook on high school has shifted completely. Rather than it being something I naturally do each day as if it were on some sort of Circadian calendar, the daily importance of school has subsided and cleared my hazy vision of what I thought was important to show me what really is: bettering myself.

I must disclose that I’m not demeaning the importance of school. There is a fine line between taking advantage of school and letting school take advantage of you.

Paul Graham wrote an amazing essay about succeeding in high school. This bit in particular stood out to me:

If I had to go through high school again, I'd treat it like a day job. I don't mean that I'd slack in school. Working at something as a day job doesn't mean doing it badly. It means not being defined by it. I mean I wouldn't think of myself as a high school student, just as a musician with a day job as a waiter doesn't think of himself as a waiter. And when I wasn't working at my day job I'd start trying to do real work.
When I ask people what they regret most about high school, they nearly all say the same thing: that they wasted so much time. If you're wondering what you're doing now that you'll regret most later, that's probably it.

Since adopting the philosophy of high school being a day job, my happiness with school has increased exponentially. I find that I no longer have any sort of regard for any of the social stigmas of high school and that any stresses over assignments have become accomplishable tasks that, in due time, will pass.

Wake up early before school or work. Run a mile.Walk your dog. Make breakfast. Break your cycle. Breaking your cycle changes the way you look at things, and in turn the things you look at change.