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Strategy lends purpose to high school doldrums

I used to play this card game called Fluxx quite a bit. The interesting thing about Fluxx is that at the beginning of each game, there is no win condition. Until someone plays a card that defines a goal, there is no way to succeed and win the game. Throughout every game of Fluxx, these goals are replaced or changed continually until a player fulfills the criteria of a goal that is currently in play, therefore winning the game.

In my four years of high school, I found myself frequently approaching and thinking about life as if it were a game. I would frame my classes and activities as experiences or resources to aid me in advancing toward my goals. I strategized on how I would approach everyday activities in order to increase efficiency and maximize the length of time I could spend procrastinating. So I made high school a game, mostly to decrease boredom, but also to help me organize how I approached life.

Trudging through the more monotonous portions of high school, it is easy to feel like what we are doing is pointless. We take classes because they’re on our schedules, not because we think they’re useful. Everything we do is meant to take up time and keep us busy until we can get out into the real world.

Some of us feel that we know what we want to do or be. We have decided what our goals are, and we have a plan on how to get there. However, we are stuck in this holding cell called high school, taking random courses which have no relation to that goal. It gets frustrating when it seems all we are doing is wasting our time trying to learn seemingly useless skills since we haven’t been deemed old enough to be free yet.

Yet if we frame high school as a game, it turns all of this on its head. In many games, the future is uncertain. To win, players must constantly judge which of their assets will be useful and which should be discarded. This is more difficult in games like Fluxx where the goal isn’t necessarily set in stone. If a player were only to pursue the goal currently in play, then victory will continually elude them. Similarly, a player will struggle to succeed if they focus only on a long term goal, as they will lose sight of the current game. Instead, in order to win, one has to build a wide array of assets and keep an eye on both the long term plans and the current game unfolding in front of them.

With that strategy in mind, high school becomes meaningful. It is unrealistic to expect our goals not to change as we progress through life, just as it is unrealistic to expect our first bid for victory to always work in any game. In life, our ideals and priorities change. The goal isn’t set in stone. We don’t necessarily know what our success looks like. Therefore, when we are dealt a hand of cards or given a course load, it's not always best to discard everything that seems useless at first glance. The game that is life is still just beginning, and we can’t possibly know everything that is ahead.


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