School, Time, ICE: What Stresses Teens Today and How They Cope

First Person, Various Authors |Photo by Gift Habeshaw on Unsplash

Editor’s Note: From worrying about their families and their futures to struggling to find enough time in the day, Richmond teens are feeling the pressure. We asked a group of high schoolers to share what causes them the most stress and how they deal with it. Their words have been lightly edited for clarity.

As a senior in high school, often I see myself in a situation where I must make choices because I can’t keep up with the homework I am given. I must prioritize: Do I work on my English essay or do I finish my physics lab? I will choose what will benefit me the most. The previous three months were pretty hard. I had to stay after school every day to work on my college applications and had to deal with the work. It made me realize how time is limited and to enjoy it as much as possible.

The stress has not left me till this day, and I don’t have a permanent solution to get rid of it. Still, though, I tend to talk with my friends on social media to get rid of this stress temporarily. I also tend to get entertained by watching shows and playing on my phone.

– Cristofer Leon, 17

Thinking about attending college stresses me out. I don’t feel prepared and don’t want to have to drop out because of costs and such. To deal with it, I motivate myself by doing the best I can in school, so I can better be prepared for a college environment. I also look around for scholarships that could reduce the financial burden. Doing so helps me feel that I will be able to succeed when the time comes.

-Mariana Taylor, 17

What stresses me out the most is interpretations that people have of me. I always used to worry about how I would like to be remembered. I feel that my generation worries about being themselves because we get judged by our actions. Over the years of domestication, we slowly shift away from our reality and we slowly all become the same. Because of this, many of us leave this world without showing our gifts. The way I cope is to not take anything personally, whether it is good or bad. By doing this, I stopped putting my trust into other people’s words. I became more trustworthy of myself when I make decisions. It gets difficult to do this, at times, because over the years, we have lived by the poison of what people say. It restricts us from being ourselves because it makes us feel safe and accepted. No matter how difficult my life gets, I try my best to not take anything personally.

– Raul Manzo, 17

The thing that stresses me the most is managing my time in getting school work done as well as for things I do outside of school. While doing college applications, it was hard to keep up with everything else. I had to do homework for some classes and attend workshops for my college program that helped us start with the personal insight questions while also taking classes at Contra Costa College and being in the Richmond Police Explorer Program. Luckily, I was able to manage my time correctly which has helped me. Now, I don’t procrastinate as much as I used to.

-Lizbeth Valenzuela , 17

What stresses me out the most is when I am washing dishes and there’s someone in my space or behind me. The way I deal with it is to tell them to stop breathing on my back unless they want to wash the dishes. I listen to my music, and I don’t do anything till they leave and no one washes the dishes. That’s just my way of coping with it; it might not work for everyone.

– Lizandro Alvarado, 17

School stresses me out the most. Every time I think about how I am going to work with my future and college stuff, here comes some work I don’t understand, so I’m stuck on that and forget what I had on my mind. I do things like sing, dance and go places to cope with it.

Roemenia Crowder, 17

ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) stresses me out. I try to think of possible ways I can be a part of the movement to abolish ICE. That helps me cope with it. ICE stresses me out because my parents are undocumented, and I’m constantly thinking about what would happen if they got deported. My life would never be the same. ICE tears family apart and Trump encourages it. I want to help the movement to get rid of ICE, and I want to be part of it.

-Bryan Benavides, 16

I think the end of the semester stresses me out the most because I have to study really hard to earn the grade that I want. I feel so much pressure when the semester is about to end because I have to take exams on each class. I cope with stress by taking a period of time to relax and don’t overthink the situation because if I overthink it, I’ll feel more pressure. I talk with my mom as well because she gives me the support that I need to keep going.

– Karina Vaca Mora, 17

What stresses me out the most is wondering what I’m going to do after high school. I don’t know what I want to study for my future career. I don’t even know what career I want to pursue. I’m worrying about how I’m going to get the money for college. I’m also stressed about money problems that come with a house, car, food, etc.

-Angel Andrade, 17

The thought of failing and not being able to provide for my family is what stresses me out. I cope by trying hard and succeeding in and outside of school. This helps as I know I’m doing something in order to better my family’s life. I am very family oriented as that has been all I have ever had.

– Bryan Castillo, 18

I’m naturally anxious and being nervous in general makes it more difficult to have a one thing that stresses me the most. But what does constantly provide great stress for me is how I choose to not “grow”. I stay inside my room and procrastinate with homework. I don’t have any idea how to prepare myself for what happens when and after I graduate. I want to cope by doing things that push me out of my comfort zone and try to grow as a person, but I quickly start overthinking and believe that even if I tried, I’d end up messing up something.

-Saul Briseno,17

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