An Ode to the grind


Brittany Hong/Chronicle

Matthew Yam

First things first, let’s clarify exactly what the phenomenon known as “the grind” is. Whether you acknowledge it or not, you’ve all experienced it. For some, it begins at 2:35 p.m. with the exception of Mondays, when it begins at 3:10 p.m. For those who play a sport, the grind typically begins around 6 p.m. when they get home after practice. For others, even later.Regardless of what time you get home, the routine is the same. Sit down, unzip your backpack, take out your red planner, plop your books on your desk and start the first assignment. You have now begun the grind.

You will write your essay, do your math problems, study for biology, in no particular order (unless you are organized and have a set schedule of which subjects you tackle first, in which case, I envy you). You are now in the midst of the grind.

Until anywhere between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m., you will toil away at your work, enriching your mind as your valuable teenage years wither away. Once you are finished with the grind, you will crawl into bed for an extended nap, and the cycle continues.

We all know the grind. It is tiring, it is tedious and it can be heartbreaking. More than anything else though, it is a given. It has become a part of our lives we have just come to expect.We are so used to it that it can be surprising to know that 99 percent of the high school students don’t partake in “the grind.”

I didn’t realize it until the evening of June 21: the summer solstice. It was 10:30 p.m. and I was sitting in a McDonald’s with a friend I’ve now known for 12 years.
As we were reflecting on our past years, I, of course, lamented on how much of a grind junior year was. He laughed.

“The grind,” he said. “The only time we say grind is when it comes to sports. You can’t have that much homework. What’s your night like?”
“Well I get home, do my homework, and then I go to sleep.”
“That sucks!”

The grind sucks. Just like all of you, I’ve been through it. I’ve complained about it countless times to my friends. I’ve stared at my Biology textbook at 1 a.m. wishing that I didn’t have to read it. Few other schools have it. Students from other schools don’t spend all afternoon and all night doing homework. So why do we? It wasn’t until this past summer that I came to realize why the grind is so important.

The most valuable thing Harvard-Westlake has given me is not what the school is notorious for – brutal amounts of homework – but the community that I have been able to be a part of.I’m surrounded by some of the smartest, most talented kids in the world and get to build relationships and learn and grow with them. This to me, is what makes being a Wolverine worth it. The community, and the competitive environment that forces all of us to learn and grow. That bio lab you spent all night on will probably be thrown away.

That history test you flunked will be meaningless once we’re out of here. It’s not the result that matters, it’s the process. It’s the strong work ethic that we develop and the ability to ride the waves of stress when they threaten to sweep us away that are valuable. The grind serves as a tool to force the very best out of us. To make us work so hard and struggle so much so that we can be prepared for anything the real world throws at us. To grow and become so strong that nothing will stop us from achieving our goals. It takes pressure to make a diamond.