The news site of Evanston Township High School's student newspaper

The Evanstonian

The news site of Evanston Township High School's student newspaper

The Evanstonian

The news site of Evanston Township High School's student newspaper

The Evanstonian


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Sam Froum, Arts & Entertainment Editor • December 21, 2023

Opinion | Whatever you’re facing, you got this

There’s open space in the middle of ETHS, two courtyards on either side of H-Hall, and teachers love using them for a break from the monotony of linoleum flooring inside the building. In one of the courtyards, there’s the planetarium and greenhouse; in the other one, the Senior Courtyard, there’s pneumonia alley, a corridor outside named so because students needed to run through the cold in the winter to get from the pool back to the locker rooms before there was a hallway connecting the two.

Students no longer need to risk their physical health sprinting from one side of the school to another in sub-zero temperatures, but the Senior Courtyard still isn’t pain-free. 

Especially at the beginning of the year, the space is well-utilized during classes, whether it be an English teacher taking the class out to read or a chemistry teacher doing an experiment that causes a bit too much smoke not to set off the fire alarms inside. But the dreaded name game is a constant in all subjects, inside or out.

Around 25 students stood in a circle in the grass as their teacher explained the game’s rules. They’d go clockwise, everyone saying their name and something they would bring to the imaginary potluck, and the next person repeats everything said before them while adding their own name and dish.

You’re standing in the middle of the circle. Not the worst place since you don’t have to remember everything, but not among the lucky few who got to go first. Everyone goes around, and eventually, the talking stick that the teacher picked up off the ground gets handed to you.

The panic sets in. 

Sam Froum

You can’t remember whether Charlie brought chips or a cheeseburger to the stupid potluck and then proceed to fumble everyone else’s name and food, the self-consciousness of one potential mistake culminating in the actual embarrassment of many.

Everyone’s staring at you; they were anyway, but the dozens of beady eyes came into full focus as you stood there, dejected. The what-ifs clouded any rational thoughts left. What if they all hate me? What if no one forgets? They’re all judging me. 

You see two people who already went, whispering to themselves, and maybe the giggling was made up, but it felt real enough. Obviously, it was about you. The tree branches started to look more like claws, and you hoped they would just dip down a few more feet to swallow you whole and end the suffering.

Another panic attack at the beginning of the school year, although you’ve gotten better at hiding them with practice. Many people would view the response as an overreaction, only ostracising you when it happens instead of helping. For something around a tenth of people in the U.S. experience each year, most still treat it as extremely uncommon.

The class ended, and at least everyone else messing up a little took some of the pressure off– until your next class, where you also know no one but have to try not to let it get to you for the second time in as many periods.

The school has above-average mental health supports, but 504 Plans and psychologists can only do so much when it feels like the administration is content with what they have available despite not every student being that way. The truth is, there’s always more ETHS could do.

Most students in your classes tend to call you out for your social shortcomings; who wants to see a therapist when everyone will judge you for it more than they already do? 

There’s mounting anxiety over pretty much everything. Everyone’s doing more extracurriculars than you, scoring higher on tests, getting better grades and working harder on self-improvement. You say the comparisons are for motivation, but it doesn’t end up that way when you start feeling terrible about yourself.

Sometimes the feelings of inadequacy fade, and sometimes they vanish entirely. But they continue to build at high-pressure moments in the school year— the end of the quarter or semester, returning from summer break, etc. 

Yet, the anxiety lessens once you turn in that last assignment or learn everyone’s names. Not necessarily gone, but more bearable than before. You got through it, and it sucked, but you still got through it. The grade doesn’t matter; remembering if one kid’s name is Steven or Stephen doesn’t matter. What matters is you got through it. And that’s all anyone can ask for.

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About the Contributors
Mack Jones, Opinion Editor, Digital Content Editor
Hi! My name is Mack Jones, and I’m the Opinion and Co-Digital Editor on The Evanstonian. This is my second year on staff; last year, I was a staff writer, primarily for News. Outside of the paper, I play tennis, guitar and piano and referee for AYSO.
Sam Froum, A&E Editor
Hi, I’m Sam Froum (he/him), and I’m the Editor of A&E and Photo & Art. This is my third year on staff. Previously I was the assistant editor of A&E and a staff writer. I write for the Evanstonian because it allows me to become a better writer and provides opportunities for collaboration with other students. I also run cross country and track and participate in Wildkit Buddies. Outside of school, I like to draw, run and watch TV.
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