“I am just a number”.
Too often when teens fall into a depression it’s chalked up to smartphones and average teenage angst. While those factors are unfortunately incredibly prevalent in our society, they aren’t influential enough to cause the same widespread panic as chemistry; nor does it leave the same anxiety of four hours of homework after six hours of school. Not to mention it’s been preached constantly that joining a sport is a must – maybe soccer, if not soccer, maybe cross country. If not a sport then maybe a club or two or three or four. Add on another one to two hours. That makes eleven hours, not even considering part time jobs: It’s lunacy to carry the belief that kids as young as fourteen can handle this workload, and it gets heavier each year.
Teenagers at Bedford High School are brilliant and talented and responsible above the standards most teenagers are held to: And herein lies the issue – we are being trained to become adults, contributing members of society, independent and scholarly. And while those may seem like simple expectations, most of us are just trying to decide whether to eat dinner or study the names of men who were historically awful at making decisions.
Spoken or unspoken, in the air is the overwhelming feeling that whatever we do isn’t enough; getting an A- on a paper used to feel good, until the girl next to you got an A+. Will we ever stop comparing ourselves to others? Will we ever look past our GPAs and extracurriculars? Will we ever stop attaching a grade to our value as people?
We all have our loves and passions and opinions. Our job as teenagers is to search for the paths we want to take in life, explore politics or religion, marketing or painting. But in an environment where certain passions are valued at a much higher level than others, it’s easy to fall into a path made for someone else: We need time to figure ourselves out before college, we need time to sleep and smile and laugh. We need time to make mistakes and forge friendships. We are tired, and we need support and understanding.
One junior at Bedford High School, when asked why they do not feel valued in their school, says, “There are so many unachievable standards that I feel I need to reach, constant pressure about what I want to do and what college I want to go to when all I want to be is happy.” We are constantly pushed to do better, and to be better, so it comes highly appreciated when a teacher or administrator says they are proud of us once in awhile.
Mental illness in teenagers is currently at record breaking rates, and it’s not because of breakups, Instagram or hormonal imbalances: It’s because we are exhausted yet expected to bear enormous responsibilities and expectations; I don’t have all the answers but I know that many teens are sad and are feeling neglected. Together, the BHS community can band as one to let students know they are not alone and they are valued.