A Teenager Grapples With What It Means to Be Young And Already Overworked

2 months ago
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I’m in my Junior year of High School, and just a little while ago I was taking a college class and basketball, on top of my Internship. I had days where I would go to my internship for the day of work, leaving immediately when it ended to go to my college class, and then as soon as the class was over I would run over to the gym, where I hurriedly changed into my basketball uniform and rushed onto the court to use what little energy I had remaining to try and win the game. I would go home exhausted and late to sleep. Rinse and repeat, day after day. After a long and hard week, I expect to go home for the weekend and recharge. I plan to do nothing to try and relax. I’ll watch movies, try to cook or clean. Instead, I feel lazy and unproductive. By taking a break from working, I end up feeling more anxious because I’m too tired and unmotivated to even do something fun. I don’t feel refreshed, or ready to take on the next week. But, I ignore it and move on because there’s nothing else to do. I wish I could feel prepared and on top of things but I’m just barely keeping up with everything thrown at me. I feel stuck, like I’m trying so hard to swim to a shore where there is peace, and I can rest, but it doesn’t get any closer, and I’m just treading water, getting more and more tired. Why do I feel like this? Why must I be so rushed and busy all the time? Why did I take all these extracurriculars?

The way our society works, everyone pushes for success and achievement. At this point in my life, everything is geared towards college, for a future career. Voices everywhere tell us to get good test scores! Do extracurriculars! Get into a good college! Etc. etc. Of course we need to be challenged and pushed to our full potential, but it seems like we're endlessly pushing ourselves to some imaginary point in life when everything we have done and accomplished finally allows us to be happy and relaxed, but we should be happy all through our life, not just at the end of it. Where does slowing down and enjoying life fit into our culture? I remember someone telling me as I was going through this intense period of my life that it won’t get any easier, and I realized that they were right. From here comes college, finding a career and so on. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life living in a constant rush and state of stress, but if I want to do the best I can, it will be pretty difficult to avoid.

Ideally, our society is a place where everyone is pushed to fulfill their potential, happily learning and growing, and being competitive for the sake of progress, however for many, this instead is wears them down, stifles them, fills their plates to the brim while pushing them still to do more. Then they are left sleep deprived, unhappy, and resenting the system that tries to make us learn. In fact, Americans receive the least amount of paid vacation time compared to other countries, and the amount of students exhibiting anxiety and stress is steadily increasing. Other countries have shorter working hours, less homework, and yet, still manage to be just as productive! So no, overly excessive amounts of work is not in fact necessary for progress. Although it is hard to control how much work and school you have to do, I advise everyone not to take on more than you can handle, it really is not necessary to overschedule every moment of every day. We should not feel like we're​ constantly rushing. As a society, we can all afford to take a step to slow down a little bit, take the time to relax and be happy, while still being encouraged positively, and that would be beneficial for everyone.

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