Staff Editorial: The reality of stress

Feature Photo By: Izzy Honey – Senior Trinity Zody studies for a calculus test in the CCC. Many Rangeview seniors have stated that they are overloaded with stress from their classes. 

By: Raider Review Editors

As second quarter is almost half way over, students are preparing to pay for AP exams, studying for finals, and making their way through the college application process. It’s clear that all around the school, students are stressed with the responsibilities of their lives, school or otherwise. Below are six of our editor’s experiences with stresses. 

 

Mya Johnson

It’s a good week if I don’t have a mental breakdown, if I don’t find myself staying up late to catch up on homework I couldn’t do because I was working or if I don’t steal time away from the day to hold back tears. I feel like I’m drowning and even though I chose my course load, I still feel like it’s not my fault.

Ever since I’ve been in school, teachers have pushed me into advanced classes. It was because they wanted to challenge me, but they also knew that I wouldn’t be successful in the future taking regular classes.

And while I know that’s not true – I can succeed while taking grade-level classes – I still feel forced to do so. I need to take hard classes to get into a good college, to get a good job,to have a good life.

But is losing my happiness now worth the possibility of happiness in the future? I would love to argue no, but it seems that I can’t; none of my peers can. Our stress is constantly invalidated – we don’t know what real stress is. We’re only kids, after all.

While good grades are important to me, I wish I hadn’t let them dictate my life: when I go to bed, when I wake up, when I eat. I’ve gotten to the point where I put everything off until the very last minute and then sometimes don’t even do it because I’m so overwhelmed.

School has destroyed me.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Although the school system has been set up so that numbers determine student value, things can change.

The biggest thing for schools to realize is that students aren’t machines. Most of us have jobs, chores, family responsibilities. We don’t have the time or the motivation to come home after eight hours at school and three to six hours at work to do an hour of homework per class. Even if it was cut in half, I could handle it.

Teach us how to handle the stresses of life. The fact is, students have busy lives. I’ve never been taught how to cope with stress except maybe to take a deep breath and a quick five-minute break.

I’m tired of being overwhelmed and not knowing how to handle it. Someone needs to throw students a life preserver. We’re tired of drowning.

 

Dennae Pigford

Somehow, I find myself thinking that life after graduation will be significantly better than my in-school life. I imagine renting a place and having a steady job will be quite less stressful than my AP Calculus class, hat bills and a 9-5 will have me smiling.

Perhaps it’s the day dream that I will be judged or evaluated on something that I am an expert on. Maybe it is the the general hope that mental health will feel more like something that I own and not just some random variable.

I imagine that the guilt I feel when calling out of classes will evaporate as I call out of work with a fever. I dream that I will no longer feel ashamed of my less than straight A report card when I still have a job after an evaluation.

I know I will no longer fear the consequence of a B. I know that I will no longer feel like running until my legs go numb due to an overwhelming feeling of being overworked. I know that no matter what happens, it is because of what I do or do not do.

I will no longer console my friends because they want to take a mental day for stress but even proposing the idea to their parents is like planning a prison break in front of the warden.

I have a goal; one of simplicity and apparently, privilege. Perhaps, as I go out on a limb, students who are treated as humans — not robots — and who receive understanding and empathy from their “elders” will not have stress and anxiety attacks solely based upon their academic life.

I understand that school is important and that education should provide a challenge but there is a huge difference between a healthy amount of challenge in order to do better and being so stressed about school that you break down and cry.

No one, especially teens, should feel like collapsing as they strive for a letter.

Let’s make it less common for someone to value a grade over their quality of life.

Dominique Harlan

My mental health will always be more important than a grade. The general pathway of school is to perform well, get good grades, and attend a good college after graduation. It all seems simple when you’re merely stating steps, but school is so much more than grades.

As of lately (and more than ever), school has done an exceedingly superb job of stressing me out. Procrastination is not a factor of the stress, and neither is lack of balance. I’m well aware of what I can and cannot handle, and I’m also wonderful at time management (not to hype my own head or anything).

But, according to Fronterisin.org, “There is growing awareness that students’ experiences of stress may impede academic success, compromise mental health…” which is for sure relatable.

I will be the first to say that often times I don’t even feel like I’m learning. I memorize, I take a test over what I don’t know, and the cycle repeats. I enjoyed learning when teachers made it a priority to get excited about what you’re learning; when they applied information to real life situations. When they understood that first you are human, then you are a student (shout out to you Mr. Melendez).

Now… I don’t look at school the same. I dread coming to a place that causes me distress. I’ve done everything I can to cut out what is not a necessity, yet I still feel like a boulder of expectation to succeed is weighing down on my back.

“You don’t even know what stress is,” adults claim.

I will always make sure I am okay before I put my all into school, and I guess that’s how I still function today.

To ease my stress, I began a bullet journal. Bullet journaling is a personalized planner that contributes to my organization. In it, I record my homework for the day, track my mood, vent, etc.

I also reach out to friends not only to vent, but for advice. Through this, I was recommended meditation, which is a great method for re-centering myself and the overwhelming emotions I come into contact with.

I rely on outside sources and take the initiative to attempt to balance myself. But yes adults, I really, really wish I didn’t know what stress felt like.

 

Jaylen Dunbar

There’s a sense of irony when those who give you assignments, tasks, and responsibilities advise you to lighten your workload. In all fairness, their request isn’t absurd; balancing one teacher’s workload alongside personal obligations is possible, to say the least. That is until you consider five other teachers asking the same thing from you.

To younger students, this alone may seem difficult. The bridge from middle school to high school is not an easy one to cross, but the majority who have learned to balance these tasks know this is just the beginning.

In high school, we are pressured to be as active outside of school as possible. Teachers and counselors insist that you join clubs, volunteer for community service, play sports, and other extracurricular activities. At the same time, we are guided by social norms to get jobs and support ourselves financially. Balancing these activities, school, work, extracurriculars, and a healthy social life is arduous, if not impossible.

Many adults or advisors reply to this issue by bluntly saying, “Well that’s life,” or “Welcome to the real world,” yet that simply isn’t true. The value on high school assignments, high school grades, and high school activities are engraved in our minds as things that will structure our lives. We are told at this young age that our actions in this state of life determine our future, thereby adding stress to our already overwhelming lives.

   We’re often told in life to not put too much on our plate, yet it seems impossible in this state of life. Of course I understand life isn’t easy and this is only the beginning. I only ask one thing: take everything that we as students- as teenagers- have to balance into consideration before you assign that essay over the weekend.

 

Vanessa Guereca

My education is something that was not optional. It was something that I knew I would have to strive for. Neither of my parents attended college nor graduated from high school. They both dropped out to work.

I am the oldest of three and the only female. Ever since I was young, I knew that I wanted to be a doctor and being a female of color, I knew I would have my struggles. 
But the struggles I have now are much more than just what I identify as. Every night since my freshman year, I have had homework. There is no exaggeration; it’s every single night. I used to have really bad breakdowns to a point where I would get really bad migraines and end up hooked up to an IV at the ER.

Of course I have learned to manage my time, but the pressure of succeeding is just as much. Having foreign parents, they do not understand what it actually is like to be in high school and begin the college process.

“Mija, just relax, there’s no need stress,” my dad reminds me.

But, he doesn’t understand that in order for me to go to college I need to apply for merit scholarships since his tax information makes me ineligible for any money from FAFSA. Having foreign parents is having a double weight on the shoulders.

I have to balance my cultural identity while also being involved in school and maintain a GPA above a 4.0. My parents do not understand what being in student leadership means, neither what NHS is. It’s up to me to tell them that it’s for my own good, yet they do not get why I have to have so much on my plate. Sometimes I fall asleep at 4 in the morning to wake up at 6 and leave the house at 6:30 since I live 20 minutes away, yet I am still expected to maintain my 4.0 GPA and be involved and be a great citizen to my community.

The educational system is more difficult than ever and it’s even harder to be a competitive applicant to anywhere now. I can’t blame the teachers because they are only following the curriculum, all I am saying is there should be empathy.

I will never give up my education, it’s something that is valuable to me that is a part of my identity as I know that if were to discontinue, I would dishonor my family. The mental load of work is already overwhelming enough, I need a balance, a break, a breath. 

 

Jorion Marshall

What are we really doing here? Is education still about learning, or is it about competing with other students in the system? The lifestyle for students today has turned into an “every man for himself” environment as we are pressured to take classes unwillingly for the approval of colleges, and are forced to stress over the constant haul of assignments and test after test.

The last time I checked – to colleges and those in authority – I was nothing more than a GPA, an ethnicity, and a test score. Perhaps the consideration of the charity work I’ve done, what sports I played, and what clubs I attended on a weekly basis are important, but other than that, my name doesn’t matter when I apply to universities. What about the passions I have, or what desires I have invested in for the entirety of my life? Or what about the job I have to pick up after school just to save up in order to afford studying for my degree? My high school administrators and the admissions offices don’t care about how much work I put in outside of school unless it is somehow tied to a excellent grade point average in the classroom.

In high school I was forced to give up many different things, things that I was actually interested and passionate about. I want to become a filmmaker and businessman one day, and at my STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) oriented school, people with intentions such as mine don’t matter. The business department was cut, there is one “video” class, and there isn’t even a film club anymore. As I saw STEM begin to occupy multiple hallways, I began to see the opportunity to refine my talents perish, and I witnessed a public school with desires to increase test scores and graduates go to extremes.

I even remember my physics teacher telling my classroom that a major such as photography is nothing more than a hobby, and advised us to study a “real” field such as medicine or engineering in order to compete in today’s economy.

I’ve traveled the world and in each country I’ve stopped in, I was asked the same question, “Why do Americans work so hard? They never have time to breathe.” Usually, getting asked this would be a good thing, but these countries are those of lesser financial stability, yet they have higher levels of personal satisfaction and happiness. This stems from the way children are raised and the morals they carry throughout their life, especially in school.

I have been doing work I have no interest in for all of high school, making every single weekday a dread and completely depleting my willpower. I have been wasting my time focusing on impressing the man in the admissions office, rather than cultivating my talents and developing myself. I want to give the world only what I can offer, but how can I do that when I’m just taught to fall in line like everyone else?

The entire morality of the school system is flipped. We are raised to pursue money and financial security, instead of what actually makes us happy. Adolescents and young individuals are pressured to pursue what is socially and economically acceptable. This leaves America as the stressed and unfulfilled society as it is known as today. My fellow classmates and I live in the age of a new American dream, and I hate it.

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