You run down the hall, turn the corner, and look back; it’s still behind you. You turn left, then right, then left again; it’s still there. You hide in the closet, hoping to escape its impending doom; it doesn’t work. You begin to run again, only faster, and turn back; it’s still there.
You turn a sharp corner, out of breath, and briefly pause to catch it while clinging onto the wall behind you, trying your absolute best not to be caught. You turn your head to the side and slowly lean over the corner; it’s still there. You run again, faster than ever; it’s still right behind you.
The phrase, “You can run, but you can’t hide,” has never felt more real than it did at that very moment. Your scariest nightmare chases you wherever you go, no matter how you try to escape; it’s your unwanted everyday companion– stress.
As a teenager in this modern-day world, stress is virtually inevitable. Whether we like it or not, it manifests itself in nearly every nook and cranny of our lives.
It follows everywhere you go, even in places where you may think you’re safe. In school, in sports, and even in once stress-relieving hobbies, the shackles of anxiety only seem to tighten as we progress through adolescence.
School, especially high school, is one of our clingy companion's more well-known and commemorated hiding places. And with an assignment due a minute before midnight, a test first period, and a graded discussion right after, it's no wonder why.
Sitting through hour after hour of filling your brain with new information– each hour an entirely new subject– causes you to be exhausted before making it halfway through the day. But it doesn’t end there! Just as you settle down at home (which is usually well past 5:00 pm for many of us), two to three hours' worth of homework sit before you, waiting to be completed.
Oh! And how silly of me would it be not to mention that your very performance during these years will dictate how and where you spend your young adult life– but no pressure!
At the end of the six-to-eight-hour school day, many of us look forward to rewinding by playing the sport we love– kicking or throwing a ball around, maybe hitting it with a racquet, or jogging as fast or as long as possible. For many, the few hours at the end of the day to enhance their skills with their beloved teammates is truly rejuvenating.
However, even in these few hours of rejoicement, stress and anxiety oftentimes creep their way into our heads. For one, there’s the constant stress of letting your team down. There’s this impending thought, often amplifying before games or competitions, that can drive anxiety attacks and nervousness– a direct result of stress.
Although this is a common and expected sensation among athletes, it can still cause severe anxiousness for days, only adding more to our already-filled plates.
As always, college enters the conversation. For many, sports are a pathway into college. Whether it be a genuine interest, a potential financial reliever, or a bit of both, a sports performance can mean the difference between a dream school or not going to college at all.
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It's these constant considerations and concerns that may cloud a teenager's brain, overwhelming it with stress and pressure.
In an attempt to, once again, escape stress, one may turn to their hobbies. Hobbies may manifest themselves in many ways, though most often as a club or other sponsored activity. What could be more fun than spending your lunch coding with friends, debating a serious topic, or exploring your interests with countless others who share them?
It’s the perfect way to debrief from the day’s pressure and worry– or so you thought. As the years go on and senior year gets closer, it becomes increasingly easy for college applications to cloud what we truly enjoy.
At some point, sometimes without even realizing it, our beloved hobbies turn from a way to express ourselves to a way to express our academic worthiness.
This infamous and inescapable phenomenon destroys the sense of self-expression and true enjoyment that was once synonymous with clubs and after-school activities.
So, naturally, this pure relaxation gets replaced with the intrusive fear that your work for a club won’t be enough to make a substantial impact on your application and is a waste of time, oftentimes making people abandon passions altogether for some sort of relief.
At last, everyone looks forward to resting their head on their pillow, closing their eyes, and drifting off for a perfect eight hours. It’s the best way to take a break, and stress can’t creep in on you if you’re asleep! Well, that’s assuming you’ll have the time to.
With all of the things previously introduced above– school, homework, and juggling sports with studying, the 24-hour day becomes insufficient, making it nearly impossible to reserve eight of those hours for sleep.
This insufficient sleep only adds to the burden. With heavily skewed sleep schedules, exhaustion and weariness begin to leach onto us, making daily tasks and responsibilities especially difficult and stress-inducing.
Before we know it, we fall into an inescapable cycle of lack of sleep and resulting fatigue; We can’t sleep because we have work and other commitments, but we can’t efficiently complete our assignments because of our lack of sleep.
If we can’t even escape the shackles of stress in our slumber, then what can we do? Considering our busy and eventful lives, this task isn’t an easy one.
Everywhere teenagers go to try and “loosen up,” stress and anxiety always seem to follow.
It chases us to our schools, our homes, our sports, our hobbies, and even as we dream– as if we were stuck in a never-ending game of Hide and Go Seek.