“You won’t get into the top colleges if you aren’t at the top of your class!” exhort pushing parents.
“You’ll be handling the Jr’s and Sr’s this semester including scheduling, college applications, and 10 other essential administrative activities,” declare administrators to counselors who work hours of unpaid overtime to listen to teen problems because no time is available during the school day.
“Now, don’t stress-out in my class,” a teacher kindly chides her students, then assigns two-hours of homework every night, drops a daily spot quiz on them and 5 major exams throughout the semester.
And then there are the incessant text messages from friends that have to be responded to as well as the required 3 extra-curricular activities and volunteer hours each week in order to be competitive on college applications.
Too many expectations with no room to make mistakes, to try and to fail and to try again, to know we are loved not because of what we DO but because we ARE.
We are not Human Doings, my friends, we are Human Beings! We don’t have to be perfect – we don’t have to get into the best university – to be loved! We might actually be HAPPY and find fulfillment from our losses and our imperfections – from going to a second tier college with less stress and more personal attention and personal growth.
I had a call just this week from a school counselor who was at her wits end, stressed to the extreme, because the students at her magnet Advanced Placement high school were too stressed, and cheating. She wanted stress management education for her students, and then she determined maybe better for the teachers and let them disseminate the information. Good call.
What was of greatest concern to me was that the school absolutely did NOT want to have the focus of stress management on alcohol and drug use or sexuality or violence because, well, this was about “STRESS MANAGEMENT”. I have no problem providing stress management training for the body, the mind and the spirit – finding life balance within self-awareness, self-care, and self-nurturance in all these areas. That is my and my husband’s area of expertise. However, how can we look at stress management without looking at how we cope with pressure and emotions in our lives? And how many parents, from low-education/low-income to highest achieving, model chemical coping – alcohol, painkillers, pot, cocaine, methamphetamines, valium, Vicodan, Oxycontin and more to manage the fears and failures of normal every day living?
Stress is the great catalyst to choice! Because STRESS is the 6-letter cover-up for so many uncomfortable feelings including a great fear of failure, fear of inadequacy, and fear of not being loved.
I’ll be exploring this perspective in greater detail this year and including CHOICES that are critical to our sense of well-being, fulfillment and joy in life.
All achievement and no play makes for a depressed teen/adult!