Angsty Teens at an All-Time High

Abby Arthur, Managing Editor

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Stress is normal. Stress is a part of life. Stress can even be healthy. However, with the expectations that seem to be increasing every year, teens are experiencing higher levels of stress than the generations before them.

Now, that rare night of staying up late till 2 AM to finish an essay is becoming a habit. Not because you procrastinate (maybe just a little), but because you play a sport or are in the play, have a job, and yes, you take other classes too. This is the vicious cycle of sleep deprivation and stress that is prevalent in millennials.

To get perspective and give insight on this increasing epidemic, English teacher Matt Barmore and Science teacher Kristen Tordillos reflected on their personal stressors when they were teens and juxtaposed it to today’s youth.

It is normal for high schoolers to have a slight increase in stress and a more mature focus on their future; but what should not be normalized is the idea of perfection. It seems as if teens are constantly comparing themselves to others in a battle for perfection; ultimately leading to additional stress.

Today, if a current Prep student was asked what their biggest stressor is, some would say sports, some would say friends, but the overwhelming majority would say school. I recognize that we attend a college preparatory school and that it’s intent was not to make academics ‘easy,’ but it also should not be the factor in our lives that puts us over the edge.

When talking to my interviewees, I noticed a trend: the further back I went in generations, the less of a factor school was on stress. For example, Barmore stated, “School really wasn’t stressful at all. Relationships were more stressful. School was easier and less important than today,” but Tordillos admitted school was for sure her biggest stressor and her “classes definitely challenged me!”

Additionally, Tordillos observed, “Prep students seem more stressed than I was in school. I don’t remember being nearly as concerned about grades as Prep students seem to be.”

The real problem arises when being stressed causes health risks and feeling overwhelmed becomes a constant state of mind. When asked if she believes the levels of stress she sees teens facing is healthy, Tordillos responded, “I don’t think the level of stress is healthy. There have actually been a few scientific studies* done regarding the negative effects too much stress can have on the body.”

Tordillos has also noticed an increase in anxiety in her students which is closely related to being over worked or stressed, and sleep deprivation.

Barmore agreed and gave some advice “Chill. The world isn’t going to end because of a quiz, a test, a project, an essay. Do you have to get things done? Yes. Do you have to make all that you do so important? No.”

Ultimately, stress is inevitable and can be a healthy component to a successful life; but is very easily taken to the extreme. The stress many of us are facing today feels consuming and never-ending, yet it some weird way, it seems normal even when it should not be.

In the words of Barmore, “chill” and enjoy your life, be expressive, and know it is going to be ok.

*example paper:

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