Story by Kimberly Hsueh
Senior Staff Writer
I poked my index finger at the wooden block. Ignoring the sway of the tower, I quickly pulled the block through and greedily added a tally mark to the total number of extractions. Jenga is a boring game, my ten-year old self thought. Absent-mindedly, I randomly selected another block to push out and the inevitable fall of the tower quickly came about. One game after another, I fell into the continuous loop of trying to carelessly extract and pile the blocks.
Throughout the course of high school, I have continued to play Jenga. The start of each semester marked the beginning of a new round. My own goal from the start of high school was to obtain the most number of APs, happily checking the courses off from the entire list of APs. As the number of classes, extracurriculars, and activities rose, my own tower of mental stability was beginning to wobble. By the beginning of the second quarter, I had already pulled countless blocks and found myself in piles of fallen blocks.
After each fall, my interest in school began to crumble. School became a place for me to seek achievements that would crank up my resume. Academics was instilled as my main priority while pursuing my passions was at the bottom. Studying to maintain a high GPA and grade on assessments required most of my time. So, as semesters passed, my interests were buried deeper underneath the
piles of work I had to complete from my overpacked schedule.
In the end, what did I gain from overworking myself?
College apps have shaken me to reality. The lack of strategy in my moves — as shown in Jenga — is reflected in my decision-making. I pushed and pulled aimlessly, never understanding the high chances of losing and seeing my collapse for almost four years. Now, with reflection and experience, I have gained a new perspective on high school, one that is too late to aid me as I reach the end of my journey. Instead of focusing on the quantity of achievements, I should have prioritized the quality of my actions and decisions.
As I restack the game one last time, I finally understand the true purpose of Jenga. Jenga is about thoughtful approaches, the desire to keep the game flowing, and knowing what and why you want to pull out that block. Once you slip into the pattern of strategy and fulfilling self-desires, you begin to prolong your survival and see the fun of the game.
Ending a strategic, fulfilling game isn’t frustrating, it might be bittersweet, but it will be satisfying, as each step taken was careful and intentional. High school is just like that: blindly taking APs and overpacking your schedule to one up another student or just to build your resume will be a monotonous cycle of failure and attempts to build oneself back up.
Knowing what you want to do and understanding the purpose of that action will lead to a consistent journey of satisfaction and rewards. Don’t put too much emphasis on the number of activities, courses, or clubs, and experiment with your passions. This is the strategy to a healthy tower of stability and enthusiasm.