Do adults in society put too much pressure on teenagers?
By Rachel Webster
We grow up with people constantly reminding us that we will be adults before we know it. The age of adulthood is eighteen. At fifteen years old, eighteen seems a long ways away. So, we shouldn’t have to worry about the problems of adults, right? Wrong! Even though adulthood seems so far away, we are expected to have adult responsibilities. Most of us feel as if we have the weight of the world on our shoulders. Some feel burdened with too many adult responsibilities despite only being teenagers. In a recent Instagram survey, only 12% of the Legend student body who responded indicated no stress about high school. 88% of the students at Legend are stressed in some way. Are we under too much pressure?
The high school years are the best years of our lives, according to many adults: going to dances, joining extracurricular activities or clubs, and playing sports. For many of us, however, that tale is starting to become a fantasy. As students approach the last day of eighth grade, we are excited to become high schoolers. We are excited to attend the assemblies, have our own lockers, enjoy those Friday night lights, and dance the night away during homecoming and prom. By the time the first day of high school comes, we are all expecting the best. Jonathan Bagwell (09), says that his first impression of high school is that there is “not too much workload with some classes, but a couple definitely do have a heavier workload.” Overall, though, he adds, “I’m not stressed in high school right now. I’d say a time I was really stressed was in my old school–American Academy.” However, by the end of first semester in high school, dealing with test after test and final exams, some feel we are at our worst. The further into high school you get, the more stressed students become. Is it too much added pressure?
Before we know it, we are walking into school on the first day of our junior year. Many worry about the SATs, our futures, and our grades. Ella Overby (11) says, “Right now, yeah I’m stressed. I’m sure everyone is. With school work, the after school show, and relationship and friendship issues, it gets overwhelming.” On top of the many things going on in our lives, many are asked several times about what they want to do career-wise in the future. “Unless someone has a concrete plan for their future, I definitely think everyone is [stressed]. I hear most kids say what college they want to go to, what major they want to study, and what they want to be when they grow up. And I’m here trying to figure out my next day’s outfit… My mind changes every month on what I want to be, and I’m really clueless,” says Overby. For most of us, the answer to the continuous questions about our future is “I’m not sure yet.” At such a young age, we are expected to know what we want to do for the rest of our lives. For the people that do know their career path, good for them. And, for the rest of us, a lot of people are in the same boat. It’s like a big question floating above us, everywhere we go, trying to figure out what we want to pursue for our careers. Is it too much pressure?
As we worry about our future career, we are still stuck in the mindset that high school determines everything for us. We are told that if we don’t get good grades and participate in extracurricular activities, we won’t get into a good college, we won’t have a good career, and we won’t succeed at life. We juggle preparing for the SAT, after school jobs, and maintaining a good GPA. We go to our extracurricular activities and come home to stacks upon stacks of homework. We are also expected to have a perfect mental health and life, dealing with no personal issues. But we aren’t perfect. We deal with broken friendships, family issues, and our own personal struggles, which leads to us staying up until one or two a.m. Just for us to go to sleep, wake up, and redo the whole day again. Is it too much pressure?
Many of us can’t help but wonder how much sleep we are missing, how many tests we are failing, and everything else we are missing out on in life just because we have so much homework that keeps us up so late. Is it the teachers’ fault? According to Overby, a teacher’s goal “is to effectively teach their class and assign work so then you can perform well in the class. Your performance is their paycheck, too.” As a freshman, Bagwell, when asked if he thinks teachers understand the amount of things going on in our lives, said: “I feel like they do sometimes. But definitely not all the time. Because they go to work and go home; they don’t have sports, extracurricular [activities], and homework.” Though many teachers oversee extracurricular activities, coach sports, and have grading and lesson planning outside of school, many students misunderstand or minimize the difficulties and pressures our teachers face, too. When asked if teachers think high school students have too much pressure on them, Mrs. Kane says it depends on their lives. “Some students have excellent support systems at home, in their social lives, and here at school; others do not have these support systems.” She adds, “Ultimately, what each person chooses to add to their plate of responsibilities is exactly that: a choice. We can choose to lighten our load. We can choose to seek out better systems of support and coping. In making these healthier choices, we choose to worry less.” Do students feel like they are able to and know how to lighten the load or is it just too much pressure?
I didn’t write this article to point out the negative things about our lives, I wrote this article to inform the adults in our society of the stress they don’t seem to see in the younger generation around them. I want teachers to acknowledge what lies on our plates right now. I want teachers to support students and realize their stress levels are high. I want parents to realize that they should help their kids out by offering a little more patience and support. I want other adults to realize that our society puts too much pressure on kids at too young an age. I want colleges to understand that we can’t do it all.
We need to realize that everyone is going through some sort of stress, so we should all practice having more patience. Treat everyone with respect and keep in mind what they are going through. Instead of expecting us to just know how to deal with stress, we need to be taught healthy coping mechanisms. We need to be taught how to take things off our plates. We need to understand how to develop support systems for handling stress; otherwise, it will always be too much pressure.