by Sarah Grim, editor
Stress – it’s a word in everyone’s vocabulary, taught at a young age when a child first sees mom with her third cup of coffee and hair in disarray. Drink lots of water, get at least eight hours of sleep, and try to relax, we’re told. Now, however, stress no longer seems to be a temporary feeling that comes and goes as straining situations arise, it’s a part of our lifestyles.
On average, teens are encouraged to get 10 hours of sleep, if possible, to help aid growth and balance hormones, but time doesn’t allow that. Getting ready and driving to school takes a minimum of an hour (if you’re fast and live close), then seven hours of school, two hour sports practices, four hour shifts at part-time jobs, three hours of homework and studying, plus added times for eating, using the bathroom, showering, socializing, and getting from place to place. All of that aside, there’s only time for about five hours of sleep – and that’s on a good day. Most students, when asked, said their sleeping pattern is irregular and doesn’t typically exceed seven hours. Nathan Pait, the student body president, laughed as he remarked that he sometimes goes to bed around 4 A.M., after completing his homework for multiple AP classes.
On top of the lack of sleep, schoolwork itself has grown to become a major anxiety-inducer. The classes, though manageable, multiply in homework. After-school work now equals or surpasses in-class tasks, and students who try to succeed at school “stress about every grade to the point of mania,” Mr. Villalobos, the chemistry and physical science teacher, said.
“The toughest tests you take in your life are outside of the classroom – life will test you outside these walls,” he continued.
Mr. V elaborated on students’ perception of school as the distinct, crucial factor in future success. But while they obsess over a single test that may maintain a 4.0 GPA, students sometimes forgo development of significant life skills.
School basically substitutes that of a full-time job, in most cases, as serious students spend all day in class and the remainder of the time worrying over it, or completing its assignments. Fear of the future motivates pressure in the present to excel. Learning to cook meals on a budget, pay the electricity bill with the last of the cash in your checking account, or making that half-tank of gas go three weeks are not things you learn in high school. Yet, these intangible concepts loom in view, only protected by the idea that if you do well in high school, you will do well in life. Good grades parallel scholarships, which mean saving money, equivocating an easier transition into the working world, where everything falls into place when you have an outstanding, free college degree.
“Stress is the norm,” Jenny Ngo, a senior, began, “It’s not the greatest feeling in the world, but when you care and worry about something enough, stress becomes apparent.”
As students overcomplicate the importance of school, everything becomes a stressor. This ongoing process has become a social custom, with each person resting on a scale – either you try to get perfect grades or you simply don’t care. We also scoff at a balanced sleeping schedule. The standard is to have no rest and study all night or, otherwise, sleep constantly and binge-watch Netflix. Anxiety is now completely normal. If you’re not worried, even that should be a cause for stress because you must’ve forgotten something.
“Stress births more stress,” Mrs. Gunter, the computer, journalism, and yearbook instructor noted.
All in all, the pressure of being a student is on a new level – a level which will only increase if we do not confront this issue.
Matthew 6:34, which says, “therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own,” is easier said than done. However, this constant strain should not continue. Take a deep breath, do your best and the rest will fall in place. Let’s try to make the new norm a healthy one.
Note: This article was written to bring awareness to student stress and encourage one another to change the social standard. In no way does this article intend to endorse anxiety or blame the school system.