Normalize feeling unmotivated


Students should not feel guilty about losing motivation. High school introduces new opportunities that may interest students more than their schoolwork, but coping strategies can help maintain a school-life balance. Graphic by Carly Erlich

As I opened my computer on that fateful Monday morning, a dreadful, unmotivated feeling ignited inside me. I was faced with a reading I needed to complete later that day. Yet again, I had procrastinated my homework until the last minute. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t bring myself to complete the assignment. The reading just wasn’t interesting to me, and the longer I procrastinated, the more frustrated I became with myself. Eventually, I finished the assignment, but my problem remained. 

This year, my lack of motivation has intensified. I have started to procrastinate more assignments, completing some past their due dates if teachers wouldn’t check them in that day. I couldn’t understand why I felt this way. I felt fine otherwise, I was just unmotivated.

As I talked to other students about how I was feeling, I discovered I wasn’t the only one lacking motivation. The more I thought about it, I realized I felt this way because I was growing up. In high school, I’ve started discovering more of my interests, which include writing and Torch work, and less U.S. history readings and integral evaluation. Like me, students may feel unmotivated to complete assignments that don’t align with their interests. Students may also feel unmotivated all together without an underlying explanation. Feeling unmotivated is completely normal, and students shouldn’t feel guilty for that.

While a lack of motivation might seem impossible to overcome, there are steps students can take to combat it. Starting an assignment can be the hardest part. If students can overcome initial hesitancy and start an assignment in a distraction-free environment for 10 to 15 minutes, they might find completing assignments isn’t as unmanageable as they thought. Once they complete their work, students can reward themselves with a break by going on their phones, taking a walk or doing something else relaxing. Students can also connect an undesirable assignment with something that creates interest for them. I have incorporated this idea while completing my U.S. history readings. I connect what I learn in class to current events, which makes the class more interesting.

Even though students can combat feeling unmotivated, it doesn’t make the feeling any less normal. Sometimes, I still find myself on my laptop, face-to-face with an assignment, wondering where my motivation went, and that’s completely okay. Students may feel unmotivated, and that must be normalized.