Stress on Today’s Youth: It Is Real


We’ve all been there. Cramming the night before a big test, stressing over forgetting your math homework, trying to finish an entire group project single-handedly. It’s nothing new; school, more-so as we grow older, can be super stressful. With more students expected to take on rigorous AP/IB workloads, and greater competition in admission to colleges and universities, it’s no surprise that the pressure we feel as high-schoolers can be overwhelming.

“I think [pressure to do well] comes mainly from myself, and since I’ve been doing well in school up to this point I have those expectations already to do very well and get all a’s, and when I’m not doing that, I’m like super stressed,” said freshman Anne Kumashiro.

Nowadays in Northern Virginia, it’s typical to know a freshman taking an AP course, and many upperclassmen take on schedules filled with several AP classes. Keep in mind-an AP class is a college class-so they include the workload of one. Although AP classes come with great benefits, like a possible college credit, it’s important to make sure your schedule is only made up of classes that are right for you. Taking too many challenging classes that simply aren’t right for you are won’t be great for your mental health, and will most likely leave you feel overwhelmed or too tired to keep up.

Not only is there pressure to excel in academics, but extracurriculars as well. Teenagers have been taught that they need to achieve some sort of well-rounded image of a teen with a 4.0, a varsity letter, and participation in a few clubs. But here’s the catch-there’s only 24 hours in a day. Students lose precious hours of sleep from staying up late studying and completing assignments-a hit to both physical and mental health. “I stay up doing homework really late, and then I don’t get enough sleep which is bad for my health”, said freshman Natalie Seah. Teens should get approximately 9-9 ½ hours of sleep a night, while many function on much less than that. Not only are you exhausting your body, but your mind; we all know how hard it is to focus in class once you start drifting off.

It’s pretty easy to start comparing yourself to the people around you; how they dress, how fast they run, or how well they do on a test. Each person has different strengths, different talents, and no-you won’t always get as good a grade as the kid sitting next to you. And although your first instinct might be to think of yourself as lesser, just remember-your intelligence is not valued by a test score a grade. Self-motivation differs from too much pressure, something that’s important to remind ourselves sometimes.

All of the pressure on high schoolers to succeed is only reinforced by how early parents, teachers, and counselors start stressing the importance of high school, college, and a future career with the tired cliche, “It’s never to soon to start thinking about your future.” Newsflash: it can be. College, career, or any other future plan is important to keep in mind as we get older, but doesn’t have to be the only focus in our lives. When asked how he deals with pressure that comes with being in high school, “It’s hard, I think I usually try to take a step back and look at the big picture and realize this isn’t the end of the world, I realize I’m going to get into college, I don’t need to worry so much about every little thing, and I make sure that I stay organized and have everything that I need to do written out so I know, and just making sure I stay on top of things, and then of course obviously talking to family member and friends if I start to feel extremely stressed,” said senior Holden Anderson.

With busier schedules, and more going on in our daily lives, we’re quick to forget how important it is to take time to spend doing the things that help us relax. Listen to music, spend time with your friends, and do things you love that aren’t school-focused. “Society makes me think that I’m not allowed to have a life”, said freshman Sofia Abela. But even when you feel like there’s not a second to spare, make sure to remember that yes-you can have a social life and a good gpa. It’s all about managing your time wisely, and making sure that you have time to be a teen before it’s too late.

So just remember, life is so much more than a letter grade or a college acceptance letter.