[A/N: This post includes deaths, and if this subject makes you uncomfortable I suggest you not to read this one. I apologize for the heaviness of the subject, but I really wanted to address it.]
My friends and I recently spent a Friday night watching the Dead Poets Society. The fifteen-inch screen of my friend’s Macbook laptop was more than enough to stream our three-dollar rented movie from Amazon. With all the lights off, the screen glowed with the enthralling plot, taking us on a nostalgic journey to when conventional ideas mostly governed children’s and teenagers’ evolution.
First, I would like to dedicate this post to the late Robin Williams, whom I greatly respected and loved. His movies were hilarious as well as didactic. I will miss his contributions as an actor and a normal man to bring great entertainment and passion into the world.
Now, going back to the movie that taught me to “Cease the Day”, I would like to address teenage stress. I am originally from Boston, Massachusetts. I went to Brookline High School, which had a great education system; I have to admit, although I would never visit my high school again, I learned a lot during the four years I studied there.
There are two high schools near us at a city called Newton. They have two high schools, one called Newton North and the other called Newton South. Whenever a tragic accident occurred in Newton, Brookline High would commemorate with them, holding assemblies in our auditorium in order to remember the great students whose lives were unfortunately short lived. Two of these students had committed suicide due to the level of stress they were dealing with.
Ever since we are young, we are taught to follow a certain structure (whether it is education, physical or mental health, etc.), or else you are bound to fail in life. This is not beneficial not only to those who are taught this way, but also to those who teach this structure. It is about time that we introduce a new system where students of all ages are encouraged to have their own ways of growing their intellectual abilities and acquiring knowledge. For example, think of the scene in the Dead Poets Society (for those of you who have seen it) where Knox, Pitts, and Cameron are walking in circles and the rest of the boys on the sidelines start clapping and the three boys start walking in the same rhythm: left, left, left right left. Kids should be taught to be individuals rather than to categorize themselves. And if you are like me and are a teenager reading this, know that you are the sole force of learning. What I mean is that there is no correct or incorrect way of studying because all you need is a style of learning that suits your acquirement of knowledge (of course, you also need a small to big dose of the desire to learn). How about we try going right, right, right left right instead?
Another scene from the Dead Poets Society prompted me to publish this post, the scene where Neil . I know that now the times are different and that more and more parents are willing to let their children experiment with their own flights. But watching the relationship between Neil and his father reminded me how the act of pressuring children and not giving them choices are still prevalent today. Especially in the United States, it is easier to take your own course as a child. But consider places that have stricter parenting, more enclosed societies that enforce a boxed view of freedom; we are who we are because of the outside forces that try to sculpt us. The saying of how children (and teenagers, too) are like sponges is true because we tend to soak up all that is given and taught to us. We grow up to represent what shaped us.
There are factors other than the amount of school work that cause immense amount of stress. There might be more causes other than the ones on the following list, but here are several that I found to be true:
1. Self-consciousness in body
2. Social pressures and expectations as well as peer drama
3. Financial situations
4. Expectations of good grades that are not only imposed by parents but also by the society
5. Planning ahead, trying to set the future while we still live in the present
6. Competition among students increases every year
7. Misunderstandings and disappointments that, even though some might seem small, still have big impacts on students because the feeling of being let down and misunderstood amplifies their self-consciousness and self-esteem.
8. Coming out
9. Realizing that you might not know who you really are and who you really want to be when you grow up; insecurities in the future
We need to address teenage stress. Not only that, we need to understand teenage stress.