The world puts a lot of pressure on young adults. No, it’s not imagined pressure; it’s very real.

During my senior year of high school, my public school started eliminating standard-level classes, leaving only honors and AP classes as options. The result? The honors classes became the classes for the “dumb kids” while everyone else was pushed into AP classes. My school was pushing the AP mentality: take college-level courses, get high scores on the AP tests, make college easier. While AP classes were meant to make the college workload easier, they made the high school workload unbearable. How do you juggle four plus hours of homework a night when you’re in class for eight hours a day?

High school students see their friends signing up for multiple AP classes a semester and think they must do the same. Then, they see their friends making A’s in the AP classes while they’re struggling to maintain B’s. Eventually, they look in the mirror and see failure.

On top of the stress from their classes, high school students are learning to drive, working part-time jobs in order to afford some newfound independence, studying for the SATs, and applying to colleges.

That’s not all.

The pressure to do well on the SATs is immense. College scholarship anyone? But they must maintain their grades, too, because maybe their GPAs will get them a scholarship.

There’s still more.

They’re trying to decide where to put themselves for the next four years. They’re watching their friends apply to Ivy League schools while they really just like the idea of community college. Yet, they apply to the Ivy Leagues anyways. They work themselves to the bone to get in, filling their lives with extracurricular activities.

student pressures

Don’t ask me when they sleep; I have no idea.

They just want to be seen as good enough. Sadly, so often they look in the mirror and see failure.

It’s sad. It’s scary. Their minds go to dark places.

Before they know it, life’s not worth living. They’re not happy pushing so hard; they have no time to pursue what they really want. It’s all about who can be the smartest, who can do the most, and who can get accepted to the best school. It’s a game of comparison.

We have to remind them that happiness looks different for every person. It’s okay not to want to go to a prestigious school; it’s okay to not take AP classes; it’s okay to make a B; it’s okay to go straight home from school and not be a member of every club. It’s okay to be happy, and it’s okay that one person’s happiness looks different than another person’s.