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"Pending" (1968).

Stress vs. Happiness

By Isabelle Jia

Stress is a large problem in today’s students whether it is obtained through middle school, high school, or college. As students grow older, the stress level tends to build because people think that in order to get into a top university, we need to push ourselves past our limits. Our parents tend to feed our stress because they say they want the best for us, but what they don’t know is that they are breaking us.

I’m not saying that all parents are like this, but from personal experience a vast majority of students at my high school are taking all weighted classes and still trying to juggle extracurricular activities and a social life. In my family, my parents immigrated from China in the 1990’s where they soon attended top schools. My father went to Stanford University on a scholarship as my mother attended Cal Berkeley with another scholarship. Their being alumni does not help the fact that they want both my sister and I to succeed.

As a freshman the workload is not heavy, but as I watch my older sister’s stress take over her life, I am frightened of what that might do to me in the future. In our situation, we don’t look at how school and academics are affecting our health. My sister is a junior, said to be the hardest year of high school, and is taking six AP classes and one Honors class. She stays up until two in the morning some days, and has to wake up at six o’clock to start her day. She also has a part time job as a tutor 3 days a week, and I stand back and watch as she trudges through days like those saying, “2 months until summer,” or “Next year I’ll be a senior.”

My mother says she’s waiting for me to be just like her, but as my parents watch in awe, I watch in disbelief. I look at myself and I know I’ll never be as well-rounded as my sister. I’ll have a lower GPA and a lower SAT score and take a smaller amount of weighted classes, but I believe I will be great. Mentally, I am not prepared for what my parents expect of me. Even as a freshman, I stress over the smallest things, and this weight of success that is resting on my shoulders makes me feel like I’m Atlas, the Titan who carries the world on his back.

I don’t want to live my high school experience through 2 AM math problems, but rather 2 AM funny pictures and texts and sleeping soundly with sweet dreams written in big white letters on my bedroom walls. I don’t want to have the expectation of seven weighted classes that I sleep through and find little interest in, rather a limit of four weighted classes that I may be passionate about in the future. We need to look at ourselves and ask ourselves, “Are you stable and ready for this kind of life?” and if we say we aren’t, then we shouldn’t have to endure pain to live up to someone else’s expectations. Our success shouldn’t be the source of someone else’s happiness, rather our success should be our happiness and pride.

Picture by Ion Chibzii.

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