October 6, 2017
I love my parents- I love them a lot. They have been there for me countless times and they’ve always been available whenever I needed a shoulder to cry on. They provide me with a great life and with endless love. However, that is not to say that they don’t come with their flaws. There was one flaw in particular though that kept coming up time and time again, and that I’m sure an abundance of teens can relate to: the constant pressure that I felt like they put on me and my siblings to get good grades.
Whether on purpose or subconsciously, my parents had always put a huge emphasis not necessarily on the learning aspect of school, but on the grades aspect. I felt like they always expected nothing but the best from me and my siblings, and that kind of attitude lead to my feeling unnecessary amounts of stress for every little quiz, project, and test. I found myself freaking out about tests not because I cared about how much I had learned, but because I was scared of the conversations I would have with my parents if I did poorly. Every time I got a bad grade I would imagine my mom telling me how I needed to stop hanging out with my friends so much, how I should stop watching so much T.V, and how if I wanted to get into a good college I needed to just pull myself together and work harder- as if I hadn’t spent a good four hours in my room the previous night studying. I would also imagine the way my dad would talk about how my brother had never gotten grades like that- how he had been straight A’s all throughout high school. So, in order to try and avoid those talks with my parents I would hide certain grades from them. If the one test score wasn’t going to affect my overall grade, then why should I have to share it with my parents? While that at first seemed like a good idea, I found myself constantly anxious that they had somehow found out about it and would yell at me not only for getting a bad grade, but for hiding it from them. So trying to hide the grade, I would always find myself eventually breaking down and confessing to my mom about the bad grade. However, weirdly enough, my mom rarely ever reacted the way I thought she would. While she would initially seem a little annoyed, after realizing that I really had tried my hardest and studied a lot she would be incredibly understanding and reassure me that all she could ask for was that I did as much as I could. While it was true that my parents had their moments of overreacting to grades, I found that most of my stress came from being scared that they would disapprove of me, and not from my parents telling me I should be working harder. Once I realized this I went ahead and talked to my parents about how I felt, and they were quick to reassure me that while yes, they expected me to work hard and hoped for me to do well in school, no test score was going to change how much they loved me.
I understand that in certain amounts some pressure and stress can be a positive thing. It can motivate you to try and work harder and can ultimately lead to you getting better results in whatever it was you were stressed about. But feeling like the score you get on a test is the difference between a happy, successful life and a life filled with misery and failure is definitely not a healthy thing. I had been stuck in a cycle of stress and labeled it as coming from my parents, when in reality I had been the one perpetuating the stress onto myself. All I needed to do was take a step back and reevaluate the situation to realize that I had been the one creating the stress. I’m not gonna lie, I still get stressed and anxious about tests and quizzes, but now I can do a better job of contextualizing that stress, and reminding myself that one score won’t establish my life course.
— Sarah, 15