Generation Z is the generation born into an ever growing world of technology. Never having to worry about brick phones, blocky television sets, and pagers. We were born into a world where everyone knows everyone from all around the world. But, with a modern world comes more problems and more stress to overcome these problems. Gen Z was born from the mid 1990s to the late 2000s. And in that time, many events caused a change in the way kids act. From the election of three presidents to the invasion of Afghanistan, and anything in between. Many kids have had to grow up faster in order to accommodate for the world changing.
Divorce has become more common, and some kids have to become “parents” in a way. More kids are getting jobs at a younger age to help pay for things, to take care of siblings, or the biggest one; get into college. “For teens, the most commonly reported sources of stress are school (83 percent), getting into a good college or deciding what to do after high school (69 percent), and financial concerns for their family (65 percent)”(Psycom). There is always a pressure among this generation that drives us to do better than the person next to us, or be 1st generation into college, or make a living and take care of our family. That drive is what makes us a well-driven generation, and that can be a good thing. However, that stress can also take a toll on our health. Students are getting fewer and fewer amounts of sleep. There are people of my own class who report on getting only four hours of sleep. The person next to them would scoff and say, “Only four, huh. I usually get two hours of sleep if I’m lucky.”
That same drive that pushes us to do better is the very same reason we run ourselves to the ground. Our generation is very open-minded at times, so when it comes to stating our downfalls. We all tend to rally with one another. I’ve seen people cry because they get A- on test. I heard a girl say that she has taken the SAT seven times. I have gotten text from my friends, that I read in the morning, but they send it at four in the morning asking me a question about the homework last night. I understand that some people handle stress and can handle more stress than others. That is okay; everybody is different and so is the level of stress. But, at some point, everybody reaches their limit. And what one person can handle in a certain area, another person might not be able to handle and vice versa.
When The Spartan asked a few students of Broad Run about what stresses them out the answers were more or less the same.
The Spartan: What stresses you out?
Meagan(Sophomore): School and homework
Elizabeth(Freshman): School, and mostly my science classes.
Jason(Freshman): Pre AP,… and Math.
The Spartan: And, how do deal with it?
Meagan: Take a nap
Elizabeth: I plan everything out on a calendar
Jason: Play golf, and watch The Office
Isis: I read excessively
The Spartan: Why do you think High Schoolers are so stressed?
Meagan: Because there is so much competition to be the best, and to be the best you have to put in so much effort and work. At takes so much time.
Elizabeth: Because there are a lot of teachers giving them a lot of projects, test, and exams.
Jason: We get too much work for no reason
Isis: Because they have tons of things piled on top of each other: clubs, classes,and homework. Then they have jobs and family piled on top of that. It just piles on top of one another, and they can’t get everything done all at once.
Now here is an interview with our guidance counselors, Kimberly Harris and Casey Sarafinas.
The Spartan: Do you see a change in the level of stress kids indure today compared to years before?
Sarafinas: Absolutely, I was a first generation college student, and so I had no idea what I needed to be doing, so there was no pressure for me to be doing . It was sort of the expectation that really wasn’t spoken about that I would go to college. Compared to back then, I graduated high school back in 1994. Even just when I started working in school counseling, 2005ish. Just working over the past decade there’s been a difference in stress level. There’s still always been students that feel that need to overachieve and it’s putting more stress on themselves. There are waves of pressure from parents, I think that still exist. But, from conversation and the student who really stress out, and a lot of it is the pressure they put on themselves. Their need to compete with their peers and that internal pressure to do the best they can be. It’s also this need in this area, in Loudoun county, where everybody feels like they have to get into a four year college in order to be successful. And, in a lot of cases that’s accurate, depending on the job. However, the more we’re finding with the four year college dropout being so high, almost as high as the divorce rate. I saw an article with Bill Gates, that it’s maybe 54%, but the dropout rate is alarming. Students see there are a lot more opportunities in trade jobs who don’t require a college degree. And students pressure themselves if they don’t have a job that correlates with their college education.
Harris: Yes, I think there’s a lot of pressure on students that at least where I grew up didn’t see. Students got to go to the top colleges, you got to get the best grades, and everything has to be perfect. And, I feel like it’s unattainable, because we’re human. But everyone is still striving to be perfect.
The Spartan: Why do you think that is, what shifted with kids just trying to get things done,other than thinking of the future and just constantly worrying?
Harris: I think there are a few different things. I think some of it comes from where you live and what’s normal for the area that you live in. I think some of it comes from social media, and striving to be perfect. You see people trying to put on their best image as possible online, and not showing the real day to day life stuff. Again striving for that perfection because you deem that everyone else is perfect, and you’re trying to get to that point. That puts so much pressure on the individual.
The Spartan: So you definitely think that social media or technology has had an impact on teenagers stress?
Harris: I would say so, yes. based on the conversations I’ve had with students.
The Spartan: How many kids, on average, come to you in a day?
Harris: Gosh, it varies so much. It depends on the day. On average, at least five to ten. Some days more, some days less.
The answers varied for the students, but the majority of stress came from school and college. For the upperclassmen, this is important. When you are on the last stretch for high school. The pressure starts to build up. It is important for students to have an idea of what they want to do. Most of our high school career we have been recommended or told what to do. We can’t exactly have someone tell us how to live our lives, so we have to start going further in our learning and what we want to do.”So, the push is to get in. Students start to soul search; what do I want to do and what path must I take to get there,” said Sarafinas.
Back in elementary school, we were ask what we wanted to be when we grow. As high schoolers, we get asked that too. Before there was an answer, a doctor, an astronaut, a zookeeper, the president. When asked the question now, we don’t know. Stress has changed the way we go about our dreams. We alter and chip away parts of our dreams to fit the world we have today. We adapt and shape our wants to fit the world’s need. We are in a fast pace world and we get stressed out because sometimes we can’t keep up.