The Three Letter Word

JUST DO IT Juniors Anase and Lilian utilize conference period for a mid-day JRP writing session. Photo by Hailey

There are three letters every girl in the Upper School cringes at. Many run away from them in fear, but they catch up eventually. The letters are JRP. Junior Research Paper.

In the days before the holiday break, I proudly strutted down the hallways. I had completed five pages. Nothing could stop me. Boasting to anyone who would listen that I planned to finish my entire paper over break, I set myself up for failure. Mistakenly, I even told my mother of my plans.

Then the break started. My digital video recorder tempted me with all the television shows I missed, and I could not disappoint. I promised myself I’d watch one, just one show, and then I would work tirelessly. So I comforted myself on my couch with a bag of Twizzlers and began to conquer the contents of my DVR.

Two weeks later, my mother kindly screamed and reminded me that I swore I would terminate the “essay of death,” and I opened my Word document for the first time on the Monday before school started again.

For the whole first semester, the JRP had served as a looming dark cloud over me, but I could no longer avoid or procrastinate. Sitting down with just my notecards and another Twizzler bag, I faced my greatest fear. But surprisingly enough, after a few hours of focusing, I added two pages onto my paper.

I rewarded myself with watching one, but only one, episode. Returning to my paper to edit the first five pages and clean up my fairly chaotic endnotes, I had finished before I could even acknowledge the boredom.

Does the JRP consume a large amount of time and effort? Yes. Does the significance of the grade heighten the stress? Yes. But really, the hardest part seems to be convincing yourself to sit down and work. Once that step is completed, the rest unravels fairly easily.

I’m not saying words flowed out from my brain to the paper in perfect grammatical form, but the task did not beat me down as I had expected. Splitting up long hours of work by watching TV or talking to a friend provided the small window of sanity I needed to continue.

Maybe part of the JRP is overstressing, overdramatizing and over-procrastinating, but in the end, Hockaday has taught us the skills we need to be able to write this paper. Complaining less and concentrating more proved to be the most challenging aspect of the paper. And endnotes.

But we just need to “keep calm and carry on,” because the looming, dark cloud will disappear soon, and we can begin to gloat to every underclassman, or really just anyone who will listen.

– Sydney