It’s not “apocalypse,” or “procrastination” (not just because they don’t have six syllables). Rest assured, it’s still far more terrifying than either of those things. What is this mystery word?
Over the past four years, I’ve learned many things. One of the universal truths I have come across, though, is that as you get older, your responsibilities seem to increase to the point where you’re not quite sure what hit you. It’s as if one moment, you’re sitting in a ridiculously tiny chair with crayons spilling out in front of you, but then in the blink of an eye you’re staring at a screen with over 20 open tabs, holding a mug of coffee that no longer affects you. Maybe the “20 open tabs” thing is just me, but there’s something in that scenario that I’m sure you can relate to.
I’m in the midst of college application season, along with my fellow seniors. One of the highlights (and I say this with heavy sarcasm) is reviewing your entire life in the search of the perfect personal statement topic. All of this soul searching and metaphorical falling into an abyss has led me to consider my own journey and decisions. Have I spent my time wisely? Have my decisions positively affected me and my future?
I have no idea.
All I can really do is marvel at the independence that comes with being responsible and taking charge of your own life. I’ve been remembering elementary school and middle school, thinking about how controlled everything was. The homework and curriculum was about following step-by-step instructions like a paint-by-numbers that left little room for improvisation. Of course, at that stage of life, instructions and rules were necessary. But after beginning to think more creatively and autonomously, I realize that I would never want to go back to those days.
As adolescents, we are in an odd transitioning period between childhood and adulthood. This leads to increased responsibility and stress levels. In fact, a survey held by the American Psychological Association confirmed that American teenagers are the most stressed-out demographic. On a 10-point scale, teenagers rated their stress as 5.8, compared to the 5.1 rating from adults. That may sound intimidating now, but that means that life will eventually get less stressful, at least if we choose to look at this optimistically. In the meanwhile, it’s critical to cope with stress responsibly and remain hopeful. After all, within the next few years, our futures will become increasingly clearer and all previous worries will seem meaningless.
Responsibility isn’t so bad if it means we can have flexibility and the ability to make decisions for ourselves. It has its downsides, but then again, what doesn’t? Whether it’s something like finally getting your driver’s license or clicking “submit” on a college application, we’re growing up, and we shouldn’t be afraid of that.