Yo, dude. I don’t feel too good man.
Yeah, you don’t look good. What’s going on?
Last night I was up til 3 a.m.
Nah, I guess I was just stressed.
Being a teenager is draining. Stress is present almost everywhere we look. The adolescent years are a fallow state for oneself, caught awkwardly between being an adult and a child.
The feeling of exhaustion is constant; our campus is plagued with tired eyes and tired souls. Schedules are jam-packed with anything and everything at all hours of the day.
When considering student mental health, the first thing that comes to mind is stress. But not just any kind of stress. This stress is bragged about in friend groups. This stress is correlated with the number of AP classes you are taking. This stress pertaining solely to academics is the most (and usually, the only) well-acknowledged mental challenge that MVHS students face.
But when all we consider is the popularly-discussed academic stress, we are cutting ourselves short. Academics aren’t everything, even to MVHS students. We’re living, breathing, walking masses of hormones that are constantly changing in balance. Musical instruments, family relationships and our athletic endeavors — they are all major contributors to how we feel at any given time.
At school, however, these stresses are invalidated. Overshadowed by what is considered important — academic stress — our other stresses are completely ignored. So every time we hear about how hard school is, our academic stress gets acknowledged, thereby leaving other stressors in the forefronts of our minds, without the same level of recognition.
It may be scary for some to take a test, but it can be even more frightening to take the stage or to compete outside of the classroom. But nobody talks about this. Nobody acknowledges that the upcoming school dance may be contributing to someone’s stress much more than an upcoming in-class essay.
To risk speaking out about other stresses is frightening in itself. While it is accepted in the mainstream to talk about academic stresses, MVHS students seem to take on a cavalier attitude towards all other forms of stress. Quite simply, we view ourselves too strong to have other sources of stress in our lives.
Feeling stressed out because of things outside of school doesn’t make us weak. Recognizing that we feel that way, on the contrary, shows mental strength. It shows an understanding of self that will help us succeed later on.
Essentially, we need to chill on talking about academic stress. It’s there. We know. Acknowledge the other problems, and our mental health will be as balanced as the resumes we are all stressing ourselves out to create in the first place.