Ideally, the teen years should be a time of finding your freedom, growing with gusto and hanging with friends (no, not the app). Sadly, those “Happy Days” have devolved instead into an extended chapter of school stress, sports madness, and window-dressing for college. If this is how we prepare our kids for the Real World, we may be failing.
In the local paper today, writer Aimee Blanchette profiles some “Superscheduled” high-schoolers aspiring to be super-achievers—with possible pit stops not only at the coffee shop and energy-drink stand, but also in mental breakdown, illness, and insomnia disorders.
The article barely mentions the straw breaking many a youth’s back (and bank): digital devices and addiction. I mean, have you seen how students study these days? It’s not easy—and often takes three screens (TV, laptop, phone) just to get started! At least 75% of teens have their own phone toy now.
Let’s not get lost in a rant here. But really, has anyone written the story about parents who have compromised or surrendered their career (and other) hopes to, instead, drive drive drive, coach, fund-raise, serve pasta feeds, sell concessions, and usher their kids to lessons and injury-fixing doctors? For this, we needed higher degrees?
Has anyone done the research on the less-privileged students whose parents can’t drop everything to make their future rosy and their high-protein meals mobile?
Has anyone proven within a reasonable doubt that all this chasing super-performance truly amounts to success in future years? Does this student earn more money? Create more innovations? Attain more contentment? Make the world a better place?
Or do they just burn out? Let’s not even get started on the epidemic of high-school athletes who quit because they’re just sick of it (perhaps literally). Or the age-old risk of high-test teens turning to substance abuse to escape agony and find ecstasy.
At any age, that’s a good question to ask yourself when you’re worrying about something—but especially when you’re over-working on something. We Americans are obsessed with believing that whatever we’re doing is profoundly important. And right. And urgent.
Well, try this chill pill: Maybe it’s not. Get over yourself—before it’s too late. This website promotes finding one’s passion in free time, travel, and career breaks. Yet most folks don’t even take advantage of their modest vacation days.
Even superscheduled superachievers still face setbacks like super-recessions. 50% of college students are living at home. 21% of college grads have boomeranged back to their hometown bedroom. Too many are flipping burgers at McBurger or greeting bargain hunters at TarMart.
Meanwhile, student debt has surpassed credit card debt. Something is broke(n) here, indeed.
Anyway, shouldn’t college be not only a time to learn about making millions, but also a time to learn about pleasure, exploration, and growth? Heck, you’ve got your whole life to work and worry. Let your higher education be a big punctuation mark. A period. Of evolution. Transformation. And hedonism (if not then, when?).
Thank God we have boy bands like One Direction to sing us carefree, bouncy songs like, “Live While We’re Young.” Youth flies away fast enough as it is; why become a fretful curmudgeon before your time? THAT kind of precociousness is not a gift!
“We’re about to make some memories,” sings One Direction. Kids, make sure those memories include beaches, banter, and laughter—not just libraries and calendar-dependence.
Or as the multi-dimensional thought-leaders 1D summarize the whole high-stakes quandary,
Don’t overthink; just let it go.”