As 10-year-old me watched Troy Bolton twirl through golf course sprinklers with Gabriella in “High School Musical 2,” I could hardly wait for my teenage years ahead of me. I pictured myself in what was made out to be the best years of my life – hanging out with friends every weekend, easy drama classes and no responsibilities besides singing and dancing throughout the halls like Troy and Gabriella.
But movies like “High School Musical” have left out some important details – you can’t run through the halls singing and dancing in choreographed numbers. Those details are the unattainable expectations that come with being a teenager.
Whether it’s coming from an adult, or the intense self-comparison to the math test on the desk next to you, high school students are constantly being reminded of everything they should be doing and how they should act. It’s expected for teenagers to have perfect grades, maintain a job, keep up with chores, get involved in sports and hobbies, have a social life with friends and family and keep up with school activities and volunteering. While achieving all these aspects in life, teenagers are also somehow expected to maintain a healthy state of mind.
Each item on that list can be arguably as important as the next, but they are next to impossible to balance.
Teenagers are expected to be as responsible as adults, but they are still treated like children. I’m sure almost every teenager has heard at least once in their life, “You kids these days have it so easy – with your technology and what not.”
While Google does give us some advantages, school has gotten distinctly harder and more pressure has been thrown onto teens. Taking college-level classes has become normalized and has taken high school studying to a different stress level.
Speaking for myself, and I’m sure my fellow classmates as well, most nights require homework cramming until midnight. Our iPhones always seem to be blamed for distracting us, but frankly, if I don’t have that 12:02 a.m. Instagram or TikTok scroll-through, I don’t get that escape from reality I crave– the break from staring at my College Algebra Trig textbook is more vital than some might think.
But this distraction only applies to homework, other things aren’t as easy to escape – and the longer you respond to Snapchats, the faster stress and responsibilities start to creep into your head.
Teenagers are expected to get jobs to prepare them for the future. Although it may seem like a good idea, once you factor in all of the other components of what’s expected from teens, it becomes virtually impossible to keep a healthy balance.
It seems to be common now that teens are undeniably stressed and overworked, and that is incredibly hard to cope with, as teens haven’t been offered much relief. Simple suggestions to relieve this stress-filled life would be to take time to manage your life and do so strategically so you are able to balance your school life and your social life. You are only a teen once, try to live the life your 10-year-old self imagined. (If nothing else, frolic through sprinklers with your friends to give you a healthy distraction).
Although it is within arms’ reach, your iPhone shouldn’t be relied on as your reality escape from work or school.
It’s important for adults to realize that being a teenager is different than it was when they were in high school. School has gotten more intense, social media has created unwanted emotional and mental issues and much more is expected from teenagers now. Technology hasn’t necessarily made our lives easier, and shouldn’t excuse or invalidate our stress. As more and more expectations cloud our minds, we tend to get drowned in pressure – it’s important for us and adults to recognize our limits.