To have a high school love affair with sweating

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Sweat.

Noun.

“Moisture exuded through the pores of the skin, typically in profuse quantities.”

Verb.

“(Of a person) Exude a great deal of strenuous effort.”

In this moment, as I sit here writing this while chomping on my granola bar, I believe I strongly prefer that latter definition.

In my time at New Trier, both definitions have applied to me to astounding degrees (air conditioning can be spotty in parts of the G building, I’ve discovered).

Beyond the physical, “noun” aspect of sweat that I have produced as the result of occasionally sweltering Cross Country meets and practices, the “verb” side of the word is the icing on the cake of the past four years I’ve been here.

I’ve sweated. I’ve been a whole well of sweat since the first time I tripped walking into the F building at the Northfield campus. And to that I say—hoorah! To that I say, it’s okay.

My final takeaway from being a student here is that it’s okay—even awe-inspiring—to sweat copiously.

There’s this phrase that’s been floating around since the dawn of time: don’t sweat the small stuff. Don’t concern yourself with the insignificant, minute aspects of life.

In fact, there’s a book called “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff Because It’s All Small Stuff” by a writer named Richard Carson (I personally cannot attest to its excellence, but Robin Sharma, bestselling author of “The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari”, most certainly can ☺︎).

The phrase itself has an incredible message of encouraging a general sense of happiness and satisfaction over the more minuscule of stressors sprinkled throughout a lifetime, like the chemistry final exam that I took in my sophomore year or the second rhetorical analysis of third quarter of my third year.

In retrospect, I do suppose those events would be “small stuff.”

But that’s only in retrospect. Looking at the long, long run of our time alive, moments like those are a drop of rainwater in a backyard pool of a bank-breaking Sheridan Rd. property.

In those actual scenarios, at the exact points when I needed to turn my junior theme in or needed to jam the fallacies of Bohr’s theory into my last remaining glial cells thirty minutes prior to the chemistry exam, those impending crises felt colossal and life-altering.

And that’s led me to wonder if perspective of the “size” or impact of a second, minute, day, memory of a life is relative, ever-changing, in constant flux and states of elasticity.

Now, in the present, the tiniest memories of sitting against a basement wall with friends downing 10 fl. oz. of water in a hot second are the ones that make me smile until my teeth bare like the hyenas in “Lion King.”

On the contrary, remembering the light fading from my eyes as I skipped FRQ #4 on my AP Biology exam, or the once unbearable pressure of feeling required to improve my GPA in the heat of freshman year—those have become minimal moments to me, when once they were all the moments.

In short, small moments can become big later. Big ones can shrink to insignificance. Or they can stay as they were originally. Memories cycle through the front of our minds as they please, with each one taking its turn being worth the world to being worth but a penny’s value of our time.

And here goes my final words to my final goodbye.

I refute Richard Carson and the man whose monk sold their luxury car. I vote that we shouldn’t sweat the small stuff — we should sweat all stuff.

Even the junior theme deadline, even the stolen New Trier bumper sticker on the back of one’s Hummer while they were chowing down at Joy Yee’s, even what we’re going to do as a career 40 years down the line, if anything at all.

All stuff is the small stuff, and all stuff is the big stuff, and both extremes and everything in between equates to a life given and lived, to my high school career, and could equate to yours too.

And to sweat over all stuff could end up inducing much stress and anxiety — oh, boy, it sure did for me.

I would say that the trick is to find a balance of knowing when to sweat and when to take your foot off of the gas pedal; but truthfully, a balance of this kind is one I never struck, and likely will spend my whole life learning how to strike. And I imagine it’s kind of like that way for a lot of you reading this, too.

I do believe, though, that all of us have some Spider-Sense that lets us know when a certain amount of worry and sweating is excessive—so in the process of sweating your way through New Trier, tap into it every once in a blue moon. Make sure you don’t end up sweating so much over your transcript that you end up in a dark recess. Where that threshold is located is unclear, so if you find yourself crossing into a darker, more worrisome frame of mind, don’t “sweat” it — but make sure that you eventually pull yourself out.

And the “noun” side of sweating can be wholly rad. Especially after an (in my case, much-delayed, not particularly impressive) intense workout, mental acrobatics included. After all, nothing gets me perspiring quite like a vein-popping, heart-stopping cutthroat game of Minesweeper.

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