Social media, competitive sports, straight As.
Growing up I thought I had a lot of pressure. I needed to make above a 4.0 GPA. I worked every day after school and all day during the summer. I had to work out numerous days a week (I have never been blessed with a good metabolism), and try to have some sort of social life. Many of my friends at that time had similarly busy schedules. Worries and stress were balanced by quiet times at homes and fun with my friends.
Times now are even busier and more stressful for teenagers. The amount of homework many of my clients have regularly leaves little time for anything else. And yet, many still need to work, play a sport and/or instrument, and try to have a social life. A social life that frequently involves social media. This adds its own level of stress as it follows you everywhere. You may think, well why don't they just stay off of social media if that is an added stress. I know teenagers who do but they struggle to maintain a social life. We live in an age where some social media is pretty much required for those in high school.
The pressure to be the best appears heighted since I was a teenager. It is not enough to play softball for the school. One must also play on a competitive team. First chair is great but in the select band, not just the "regular" band.
When did this happen and how? I was in the top of my class but I can honestly say that didn't make or break me in my career. I probably could have relaxed a little more (enjoyed life a little more) and still be where I am today. I am not saying that we should encourage teenagers to be slackers but we do not need to encourage them to be the "best" at everything. Some things should be done for the joy of doing them. We also need hobbies that are just for fun.
I fear that cases of anxiety will continue to rise if a change isn't made.
Stefanie F. Pisarkiewicz, LPC
Experience and information from a counselor and mother- sharing her two cents on children and teens.