Teenagers nowadays hear a steady chorus of “How can you look better to colleges?”, “Is this course load challenging enough?”, and “Are you doing enough extracurriculars to look well rounded and competitive?” From our parents, teachers, and even peers. We are encouraged to take the hardest classes, get the best grades, receive the best test scores, volunteer for countless hours, study the most, receive the highest honors, and generally to be the best. Frankly, its exhausting.
There is pressure put upon us from a young age to be “successful.” To succeed seems to mean being accepted to a four-year university, receiving high grades, doing well in the various clubs and groups we partake in, get enough sleep, stay healthy, and to be able to juggle it all without complaint. Is the pressure to be successful beneficial? Or does it ultimately cause more harm than good?
According to an annual survey published by the American Psychological Association, “teens routinely say that their school-year stress levels are far higher than they think is healthy and their average reported stress exceeds that of adults.” Is this really how we want to be spending our youth?
An article from NBC states “An increased emphasis on make-or-break school testing and sharp focus as early as middle school on future college or career plans can be intense for some kids. Others find that the ordinary struggles of adolescence — friendship, romance, fitting in — are magnified by social media that doesn’t end when classes are over.
‘It follows them home,’ said Tim Conway, who directs the counseling department at Lakeland Regional High School in Wanaque, N.J. ‘There is no escape anymore.’”
We are always thinking about what comes next. After this week, what do we need to study for next? After this school year, what summer program will look the best on our transcripts? After high school, what colleges do we have a chance of being accepted at? We aren’t living in the present anymore.
So, what can be done about this? How do we manage it all? How can we be better encouraged and supported by adults? “It is alarming that the teen stress experience is so similar to that of adults,” said Norman B. Anderson, the APA’s chief executive and senior vice president. “In order to break this cycle of stress and unhealthy behaviors as a nation, we need to provide teens with better support and health education, at school and at home, at the community level and in their interactions with health care professionals.”
Additionally, “parents, counselors and other adults can help young people resist stress and learn to manage it better, said Forrester, [a] school counselor. They can set limits for reasonable sleep and screen time and point their teens toward stress-relieving activities, such as exercise.
They can help kids set realistic priorities for school and outside activities. “We talk to them about balance. How do you balance what you have on your plate?” he said. “Maybe you don’t need to do three sports.” According to the NBC article.
Its hard to grow up in today’s world. So much is expected of us. I think the best thing we can do is remember to try our best, but attempt to find some sort of balance. We will be okay.
Photo Credits: Student Voices