Adults aren’t the only ones that experience the “hard” life. People assume it’s normal for teenagers to always be tired, moody and low in confidence. But actually, they’re dealing with a lot and they don’t have much life experience to help them work through it.
Sixteen-year-old Suhaimah Suliman told us about five of the biggest stressors for the average teen.
1. Peer pressure
Our peers, the people we see every day, influence us more than we realise, both positively and negatively. Sometimes it’s a subconscious thing and we don’t realise the ways our behaviour, attitudes, and values get affected by the people around us. Sometimes we do things we know we shouldn’t because everyone’s doing it and we don’t want to left out. Resisting peer pressure can take its toll, so forgive us if we’re sometimes morose.
2. Work, work, work
School work, homework, exams, extra-mural activities, chores and family responsibilities, and a social life all add up to compound teenagers’ stress and anxiety. Our lives are filled with work all the time. Even during school holidays, someone will find a way to fill our time, and if they don’t they’ll just judge us for not being busy. How are we supposed to live our lives if we are constantly at home finishing up work and never get the chance to just be with friends or family?
Some parents create high expectations for their children to achieve which then puts us under pressure as we don’t want to disappoint our parents or be punished. Sometimes it can feel like we’re not working for ourselves but to satisfy our parents’ expectations, and it’s easy to end up hating school and all its pressures.
Maintaining friendships and avoiding drama is another all-consuming struggle. We don’t want to be seen as loners or wannabes, and we’re always seeking validation from our peers or competing for popularity. This is an issue that every generation faces. We weren’t the first and we won’t be the last.
4. Social media
But then there are the complications our parents never had – like social media. Social media gives us another way to socialise and helps to keep us up to date with the latest trends. But it’s also a trap, one that shows us the perfect and perfectly unrealistic lives some people live (or pretend to live), leaving us feeling stuck in our own boring lives. Online models of flawlessness can exacerbate self esteem and body image issues, and even lead to depression.
Decision-making is a huge source of distress in teenagers’ lives. Between having to make subject choices, career choices and university choices, without really knowing what the world has to offer, high school can be an infuriating and stressful time. Add to that the fact that the adults around us keep telling us how every decision we make now will affect the rest of our lives, and the pressure can become too much. It’s a lot to deal with.
You can’t get away from stress but you can get a handle on it. Psychologists recommend getting regular exercise, getting enough sleep, trying to find a balance between work and play, and making sure you keep talking to a parent, teacher or trusted adult about your stresses.