The Stress of Growing UP


Eva Fahrenkrog

The difference between a childhood story vs. a college prep book and the significance that each holds.

Growing up in the overly saturated, competitive society that is set before us today is, to say the least, stressful. 

But what does it mean to grow up? Going to college? Getting your first job? Living on your own? 

Between the finale of the college process for high school seniors, to the brand new experiences of freshmen, the stress of growing up is too much. 

Being bombarded with questions like “What do you want to be when you grow up?” or “What college do you want to go to?” is getting old. 

Teens in high school right now are a specifically unique case. We didn’t have the space to grow up, and were confined to our rooms for over a year- Thus stripping us of the few fleeting years of childhood we have left.  

Some teens don’t want to grow up yet, having missed two years of crucial experiences. Wanting to live in the moment should be OK, and not having a plan for college or a career path doesn’t make someone any less prepared than someone who does. Things don’t always work out the way you thought they would when you were 16.

Others can barely wait to start their adult life. Having a job, going to college, and creating an independent life away from where they grew up seems exciting to them. 

Regardless of what teens want, there shouldn’t be pressure to decide on one way or another. Some take longer than others to determine the agenda of their life, and others have known since they were eight. The timeliness of what we decide to do and when should be up to us.  

Teens are a unique group, as there are expectations to balance the last years of our childhood with being as fully prepared as possible for the rest of our adult life. But picking only one isn’t an option. If you choose to focus on being a kid, you seem unprepared. On the other hand, focusing too much on the future is stressful, and makes you miss out on memories of childhood.

Balance is an element of life we never seem to outgrow, and it’s good to learn how to do it. Until now, teens only had to balance things a child would. Now, we have to balance adult decisions with child experiences. Going out with your friends or filling out the Common App? Going to a football game or a college visit? These are the things teens have to choose from once they begin to set the stage for their adult life. 

Growing up can be exciting, and it’s good to have big dreams, but it’s just as important to value the present. Adults always tell teens that if they could go back to high school, they would. 

Sometimes, it feels like parents forget what it’s like to be a teen, granted things have changed a lot since then. They didn’t have to deal with the comparisons that social media can bring. 

One way that parents can support this huge life change is to try to understand. More than half the time, external pressures from adults in a teen’s life can be the most pressing stress they have. Unintentionally or not, lots of teens make decisions in regards to their parents’ approval. This isn’t always a bad thing, but at some point all people need to learn how to make decisions for themselves. 

Becoming an independent member of society isn’t supposed to be easy. And there isn’t a right or wrong way to do it. No one ever takes the right path every single time, nor should they. Arguably, some of the strongest and most independent adults are ones who learned how to make their own decisions themselves as they grew up. 

To all teens afraid of the future, and even the present: It is okay to not have your life planned out. Having a strong support system to help GUIDE you (not make decisions for you) is all you need in this world. 

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, and live the remaining years of your childhood in a way that you will look back at with love. Additionally, create a life for yourself in which you don’t wish you could go back to high school. Build a circle of friends and family that make you want to stay where you are. Live life in the present, and focus on the future when it gets here.