There are many reasons why being in high school is stressful. Lots of things we do are either to impress colleges, make our parents and teachers proud, or simply to make society think we are doing what we should be doing and what they expect from us.
Unfortunately, what all of this pressure means is that teens often don’t want to do the things they know they should because they are constantly being told to do it. The high expectations set for us are hard to reach and are sometimes unrealistic. How are we supposed to do everything so perfectly when you’re just figuring out who you are and are experiencing many changes in your life? The truth is, you can’t.
As high school students, our days are filled with seven hours of school and then more time after school with studying and homework. Each day, I come home very tired but still have stacks of homework and studying to do. The expectations of being who many expect me to be are impossible. On social media, we are expected to be these super cool person with an amazing social life. Add to that the expectations of getting high grades – generally straight A’s – from your parents and teachers, plus the expectations of doing sports, clubs, having a job, as well as being sure to volunteer to complete SSL hours and look good on paper. Add that all up and you’ve got a young person who feels overwhelmed both physically and mentally.
All of our dreams, wishes, and hopes are second to everybody else’s vision for us. We’re constantly trying to do what our parents, teachers, friends, and even future college admissions people want. And this takes a toll.
So who is the problem? Well, I’ve identified several, but the biggest issue is that older generations push their dreams and try so hard to give us what they didn’t have. Yet, sometimes it’s not what we want. The reality people need to understand is that sometimes we need to fail and make mistakes to grow personally. Rather than hear some lecture about what we did wrong, perhaps we simply should be left to deal with our personal feelings and motivations after failing or doing poorly. We will learn to never want to feel like that again. Our parents’ generations do not understand some of the things we do, just as their parents probably did not understand them. What we face today is something they never had to, so they don’t understand how hard it can be. They never had to experience being a teenager with social media. In many cases, they also did not experience the academic pressures we do which include AP courses, required SSL hours, and even the challenges of clubs and activities.
My AP NSL teacher confirmed this for me recently, noting that she did not face all of these same pressures. She didn’t take any AP classes because only a small group of kids took them when she was in school and it wasn’t expected for almost everyone to take AP like it is now.
Some might argue that teens of all generations feel stress and one generation really feels no more than the last. However, for this generation the expectations are higher, the pressures seem greater, and what young people were once praised for is just part of what they are expected to do.