Brainstorm | Kyle Kim
It’s really no secret to anyone that CCA is a competitive high school. The breakneck speeds and intense workloads that its students often endure within their coursework is common knowledge among the greater San Diego community, and the mental health struggles of the student body are equally pervasive. And while efforts within the administration and counseling departments to combat the difficulties that students face have been implemented, many are still left wondering whether these changes have any effect at all. And so, as someone who has struggled with anxiety and depression for much of my life, I wanted to share my thoughts.
Right off the bat, I want to emphasize that attending CCA did not significantly deteriorate my own personal mental state. The mental health issues I’ve personally experienced date back much further than any time I’ve spent as a Raven—these struggles have been a fundamental part of my life, shaping my worldview and how I interact with the world around me. I’m not mentioning any of this to prove some larger point or for pity, but rather to provide context on where I’m coming from.
However, attending such a high-pressure and competitive high school hasn’t exactly made these issues any easier to deal with. In fact, I would be surprised if even the most resilient and motivated students at our school wouldn’t be able to easily name at least one time during their tenure at CCA during which they felt extremely overwhelmed, stressed, or drained due to school work, school-related extracurriculars, or perhaps even the seemingly unprecedented amount of controversies the district has found itself sorting through within the past couple of years.
For myself, the biggest problem I experienced throughout my high school journey was a growing numbness to the things I once enjoyed. For instance, although I had once loved reading and writing, spending countless days and nights of my childhood drafting mythological stories to share with my friends or curling up throughout long nights with a good book, it soon became a chore under the demanding and rigid curriculum that our school tends to offer. Similarly, although I eagerly jumped at opportunities to join the exciting clubs that CCA had to offer throughout my freshman year, I slowly fell out of love with these passions as I became accustomed to the ultra-competitive and intense nature of many of these extracurriculars. To put it simply, as the pressure continued to mount, I had no energy and no motivation to do anything. Each school day felt as if I was just going through the motions, trying to see if anything would stick, but to little avail.
But I also want to emphasize that, for many of the faults that CCA might seem to have, it’s definitely not without its plentiful amount of positives as well. For instance, simply joining the right program, forming a bond with one of our many amazing faculty members, or even simply taking the right class can have a wonderful impact on your outlook of the school, giving you renewed passion and maybe even providing you an extra reason to get out of bed in the morning. Finding the right group of like-minded individuals can add so much value to your educational experience, and many of my best days at this school were surrounded by amazing people, as we accomplished things that would be truly impossible at any other school.
All in all, while CCA has built a reputation over the past couple of years as a school of crushing AP workloads and a collectively burnt out student body, I've also learned that the school has many wonderful people, programs, and resources available to make the journey that much easier. I know that there are many other students out there who are struggling with similar issues, and they may not have the resources or support that I was lucky enough to have. If you're reading this and you're battling with any mental health issues, know that there is help available. Talk to your parents or a trusted adult, and seek out a therapist or counselor who can help you develop coping strategies. You are not weak for struggling, and it's okay to ask for help.