Teenage Stress: It’s Not Us. It’s You.

By Teresa Zhang

February 4, 2021

Adults often complain kids these days are overly dramatic, and they think every little thing that happens will somehow negatively affect them, no matter how remotely it relates to them. However, taking a deeper look into it, we can clearly see teenage stress directly correlates to the current expectations and situations of the world around them. In fact, teenage stress is a direct result of adult pressure and expectations, which have spiked dramatically in recent years. 

Teens, or more accurately, kids (because no matter how mature they look or act, they’re still children) these days are expected to participate in high level classes, to be involved in extracurricular activities and to have jobs on top of that. Having all of these expectations on their shoulders can understandably lead kids to feel extremely stressed and worried. After all, there are only 24 hours in a day, and splitting all of these activities into time slots—eight hours for sleep, seven hours for school, two hours for extracurriculars, four hours for work and two hours for homework—leaves only a single measly hour for personal time for students. And, of course, that’s not even remotely enough time, so students are forced to choose between their personal relationships and mental health and their school life. Presented with these decisions, it’s no wonder teens these days tend to overthink and stress about every little thing. 

And adults, who, despite being the very same people who complain of this type of behavior, are the very people that perpetuate it. Parents, who think they’re helping their children “get ahead in life,” pressure them to participate in activities their children have absolutely no interest in. College administrators, who want “the best and the brightest of the generation” on their campus, snub students who are disadvantaged in favor of more “cultured” and “experienced” students (read: privileged) who have the resources and time to be cultured and experienced. And finally, at the top, there’s the big company employers. These people demand their entry level employees be experienced and well connected, while exploiting their labor and paying their workers the least amount they can in the name of “progress” and “innovation”. 

We cannot make changes to the establishment without first acknowledging there is a problem in the system. Ridiculing teens for their behavior pins all the blame on them, when in reality it is the people in charge, the people with authority and actual power who are at fault for perpetuating this toxic behavior. And while it may be easier to say this issue is a solely American problem, the reality is these high standards and expectations are global, and unless we change, future generations will enjoy life even less than our cavemen ancestors.