No Time for That

Sophomore, Senior Share Busy Schedules

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Photo Courtesy of Lydia Vermillion

Kneeling down to keep them still for the picture, senior Lydia Vermillion hugs her FFA show lambs, Windsor and Royal. Vermillion has been a member of the FFA for two years and will be competing in FFA contests in both the fall and spring this year. “[My] lambs take up three to five hours of my day,” Vermillion said. “I am [also] an officer in [the Cedar Park FFA Chapter, which] includes going to officer meetings and regular meetings, and planning [those] meetings.”

Kacey Miller, Reporter

His alarm clock goes off at five a.m., but it’s not until he first dives into the pool for swim practice that he wakes up completely. After morning practice, it’s time for school, where seven hours of AP and advanced classes await. At the end of the school day, if there isn’t a swim meet, he heads home to do homework for a few hours, then drives to the gym to work out. When he finally gets to bed and falls asleep, the clock beside his bed reads 11 p.m. Then, only a few minutes later, it seems, his alarm clock goes off again.

Because of his busy schedule, sophomore Mattia Tomini said he has little time to spend with friends and sometimes even less to take care of his own body, which he does during his two-hour long visits to Gold’s Gym at least five times a week.

“I [workout] for health benefits,” Tomini said. “Going to the gym has [also] helped me boost my confidence and be happier. [But sometimes when I have a lot of homework] I can’t even go to the gym, [or] don’t go until 10:00 p.m.k.”

Advanced and AP courses make up most of Tomini’s schedule, each class paired with a varying amount of homework that can take up most of his night. Tomini said he takes the advanced classes so he can have a chance of getting college scholarships.

“Pre-calculus, [AP] seminar, and AP World History are [my] most stressful [classes],” Tomini said. “It’s an overwhelming amount of homework. [But] everything I do is up to me. I don’t have to do all this stuff. I could drop down [from advanced courses] and take other classes, but it’s too easy. I like to be challenged.”

Although he doesn’t wish he was less busy, Tomini said he wants to be better at managing what little time he does have to get homework and other important things done.

“[My parents] say [that I] need to get really good at time management because of [my] schedule,” Tomini said. “I’ve gotten better, and improved [my time management]. But I [do] have a 1500 word essay due tomorrow that I haven’t started.”

He sometimes has to pass up hanging out with friends because of his schedule, Tomini said, but still tries to hang out with them a few times a week.

“[I spend] more time [with my friends] than I should,” Tomini said. “Some days I don’t [go] home and I don’t study. So a lot of hours [are spent with my friends, but] I feel like it’s better to live a little. I shouldn’t have to stress about school all the time.”

Tomini said he considers himself busier than most people, and doesn’t think he’s even at his busiest point yet in high school.

“I think next year will be [busier for me as a junior],” Tomini said. “[I’m] realizing that college is not that far away. I have to make a bunch of applications. It’s scary, and I’m not excited at all [for next year]. My senior year will be easier because I’ll probably have a few off-periods.”

Already past her junior year and now halfway through her first semester as a senior, Lydia Vermillion is at her busiest. With two jobs, three clubs, and a volunteering project, Vermillion said she hasn’t had a day off since school started, especially while balancing school on top of everything else.

“[I have] at least four [hours of homework a night],” Vermillion said. “I am in statistics, advanced animal science, AP biology, economics, ASL IV, and [AP] language arts. AP biology is probably [one of my hardest classes] because some of [the material] is harder for me to memorize. But in terms of work[load], definitely AP language arts [is the most challenging].”

Vermillion is in the second quartile of her class, and is currently in NHS, T-Wolves for the Environment, and is the secretary of the Cedar Park FFA chapter. As an FFA member she raises show lambs at the school barn and competes in Leadership Development Events (LDEs) in the fall and Career Development Events (CDEs) in the spring.

“I have two show lambs that take up three to five hours of my day,” Vermillion said. “[And] I am an officer in FFA, so that includes going to officer meetings and regular meetings and planning [those] meetings.”

This fall, Vermillion is competing in two LDEs: public relations and job interview.

“[Public relations] is where you read a script about a given topic and present [it] to a panel of judges,” Vermillion said. “They judge your public speaking and performance. [Job] interview is where you prepare some questions, talk through answers, and practice how to be a good interviewee for a job interview, so good career-building skills.”

If she competes in two LDEs, Vermillion will have a minimum of four hours of before and after school practices a week. Next semester, she’ll compete in horse judging and be on the environmental natural resources (ENR) team.

“Horse judging is where you look at different horses and say which one looks the best and which one looks the worst,” Vermillion said. “There are four horses in a set, and we’ll typically judge eight or 10 sets of horses. ENR is where we judge land. That’s the easiest way to say that.”

When she’s not at school or the barn, Vermillion is either cleaning horse stalls and feeding horses at Hidden Creek Ranch, where she works three days a week for two hours a day, or clocking in her 25-hour workweek at Chick-fil-A. Vermillion said because of her schedule, she has to be smart about how she spends her time throughout the week.

“I don’t have work on Monday or Tuesday, so that’s really nice,” Vermillion said. “I try to get as much of my homework done during those two days as I can so I don’t have as much on days when I work. I typically spend less time with the lambs on Monday in favor of getting all of [my schoolwork] done [for most of the week].”

She gets five to six hours of sleep a night, which is not enough, Vermillion said, and has much less of the day to relax or take a break.

“I have at least a solid hour that I take to relax most days,” Vermillion said. “That [hour] usually comes in the form of breaks between doing work, not full chunks of time. Typically one of my breaks is a nap. I need at least seven [to] seven and a half hours [of sleep] to function well, [but] being busy means I don’t have as much time to sleep.”

Vermillion thought her senior year would be low-key and non-stressful.

“I was not expecting [to be this busy this year],” Vermillion said. “My parents warned me I would be busy, but I was like ‘it’ll be fine, it won’t be that hard, I’m not going to be too busy.’ And now I’m regretting it. They were exactly right. Definitely one of those classic ‘should have listened to your mom’ moments.”

Vermillion said that the time she doesn’t have to spend time with friends and be social is made up for with the many classes she has with them.

“All my friends are pretty busy too,” Vermillion said. “I mostly [hang out with friends] at school or school-related things. I see a lot of them throughout the day, and we all go to the same church. We don’t have a whole lot of hang out time because we see each other enough.”

On Sundays, Vermillion spends most of her day at the church she attends, the Austin Stone Northwest.

“I teach a youth group in the morning [on Sundays],” Vermillion said. “And then I have my youth group at night, and then regular church. And I have another, more in-depth small group program at my church that’s once a month. It’s church all day long, which is great, but also tiring.”

Also on Sundays is when Vermillion does NHS volunteer work at a program she’s been a part of since she was in sixth grade. The Miracle League is a baseball program for kids of any age with special needs. Each game lasts about two hours, and Vermillion works at one to three each weekend.

“My job is to be a buddy,” Vermillion said. “[Volunteers] get paired up one-on-one with a kid each game on the team we’re assigned, and we make sure they have a good time and are staying safe. The parents get to support their kids, [which] is something they don’t always get to do because the[ir kids] aren’t typically on a regular sports team. It gives both the kid and the parent the opportunity to experience that.”

Her relationships suffer in the way that she has less time to keep up with them, Vermillion said. At home, she sometimes misses her family dinners, which her family has almost every night.

“I get less time to spend with people, specifically family,” Vermillion said. “I’d like to spend a lot more time with my family. Sometimes I miss [our family] dinner [that] we always have together. That’s mainly when we sit down to talk and get to bond. That’s really important to me, so I don’t like having to miss out on that.”

Spending her senior year with not as much to do would be nice, Vermillion said, but she has torn feelings about whether it would be better to have less on her plate.

“When it’s a week when I have three tests, I’m definitely wishing I was less busy,” Vermillion said. “I want more free time to enjoy being a senior. I would love to be able to do more art, [join] more clubs, and hang out with my friends. But I don’t like having nothing to do. I like being busy because it keeps me active, but I wish I was less busy so I had more time to relax. I love doing all the things that I do, and I do them because I enjoy them. It’s not a pain for me to do anything, it’s not a chore. It’s just a lot.”

Even with all of the mentally-draining things she’s a part of, Vermillion said she’s happy, and her mental health is in good shape.

“If I hated half of what I did in my life, then [my mental health] would not be good,” Vermillion said. “The main thing that impacts my mental standpoint is not having as much rest as I need to keep up with everything. It’s like a one-person relay. You’re having to constantly hand the baton off to yourself and run the next lap, because there’s no other person there to help. I’m not going to have stamina to keep everything up long-term. Not to say that I don’t have enough support, I’ve got plenty. I just don’t like putting things on other people that are my responsibility.”

Listening to music helps Vermillion through more stressful days, when she listens to Christian music and country music. Another way she works through anxiety is by talking to her sister about everything she has to get done.

“It definitely helps [my anxiety when I] talk through all my stuff with my sister,” Vermillion said. “I like to vent to her about all the stress, and that relieves about half of it, so I can focus on everything else. It’s nice to get that out to someone. The more you say it, the more real it gets, and then you can start to accept [the] fact that you’ve got to get your stuff together.”

Her morning routine consists of talking herself through what her day will look like and what she needs to get done, Vermillion said. She likes to set her mental expectations for the amount of work she’ll face.

“Every morning when I get up, [I say] ‘today is a great day, I can and I will,’” Vermillion said. “It helps. In my experience, trying to hold a lot of stress in[side] is more stressful than letting it out. Even if you’re really busy, for me it helps to take five minutes to relieve that stress, whatever that looks like for you. Go scream in a pillow, lay in a dark room and put your AirPods in and listen to music. Go on a run, do some art, read a book.”

Colleges don’t just look for good grades, Vermillion said, so being busy with extracurricular activities can be a worthwhile thing.

“One of the big things colleges ask for is what else you’re involved in,” Vermillion said. “They don’t want to see that perfect academic record as much as they want to see diversity in the things that you’re doing and that you’re a well-rounded person. Don’t put all that pressure on those grades, because that’s not the only thing that matters.”

Her advice for those who are wanting a laid-back senior year is to finish all college applications the summer after junior year. She said it’s much easier to take care of that over the summer than have to deal with it during the school year.

“I would [also] make sure you’re not saying ‘yes’ to everything,” Vermillion said. “That was my biggest problem. I said yes to everything that came my way that was something that I wanted to do. Even if it is something that you really want to do, make sure you’re recognizing when taking on too much is going to make you start lacking in other areas. You don’t want to sacrifice quality for quantity. Take time for yourself. Recognize when you’re hitting your limits.”