By: Kaela Dockray ’20
I am your everyday brand of adolescent anxiety, caused, in large part, by the competitive nature fostered in our community to be the most successful, well-rounded student. The need to reach our respective goals, which seems to be defined by so many as acceptance to a top university, is overwhelming, to say the least. Add to that the seemingly endless platforms of social media that we are expected to update incessantly, it’s no wonder that anxiety among adolescents seems to be on the rise.
But I have come to realize that there is so much more to teenage anxiety than academic pressure and social media. While having to manage a variety of Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook accounts is stressful, our generation is affected by so much more than just a click or a swipe.
We live in an era in which terrorist attacks and mass shootings are happening right outside our doors. An era where we never know what to expect from the leader of our nation, a man whose words seem to risk the safety of our country on a daily basis. We constantly read of the misogynistic actions of men like our president and Harvey Weinstein, both of whom treat women like objects rather than intellectual equals. This makes women, like myself, who will one day enter the workplace, fear that we too will be treated in a similar manner. My generation was born into an era of uncertainty, only ever experiencing a post-9/11 world. We now live with the nagging thought of when, not whether, the next attack will hit.
In a time when the safety of our nation is of constant concern, we, as students, are forced to try to put things into perspective. Sometimes it just seems easier to stress over a poor grade on a chemistry test than to worry about the safety of our parents when they board Metro North to head into New York City everyday for work. Although having to update my Instagram profile constantly is stressful, I have come to realize that given all that’s happening in our world, it’s inevitable to feel anxious and scared about more pressing concerns.
My anxiety is more than just the fear of doing poorly in school or not getting enough likes on an Instagram photo; It’s the thought that I could be the next person directly impacted by the travesties that have become an everyday occurrence in our nation. Oftentimes, it’s easier to “sweat the small stuff” because the “big” stuff feels out of my control and is simply too overwhelming.