Here is the full transcript of Carley Rogers’ TEDx Talk on Stress at School at TEDxYouth@ParkCity conference.
There are many days I hear my alarm waking me up for school, and I dread getting out of bed. I have more than I need.
I’m fed every day, I live in a wonderful house in a beautiful city, and I attend a good school, yet I still don’t want to go. It is so easy to find the negatives in school. Things like stress and lack of interest in my classes are just some of the negatives that overpower the good.
Yet, at the perspective of another, their opinion would be completely different. Imagine a 14-year-old girl living in an African country: her name is Adisa, and she is part of a family of six living in a one-room house.
She would give anything to have the opportunity to learn, but her family can’t afford it. To her, school would not be the terrible monster that I see. She would find the positives. She would see school as a way to make new friends and learn about the world around her. Thinking about Adisa and others in her situation made me feel very guilty.
Here I am, complaining about my life when I have everything I need and more. What she would only dream of living a life like mine? I’ve been told to be successful in life. I have to succeed in school. I’ve been told to get into a good college. I have to make good grades and participate in as many school activities as possible. The way I see it, putting that much pressure on yourself to make good grades and participate in every school activity is not the best high school experience. For me, this just adds to the pressure and anxiety making it more difficult to learn.
I struggle with stress and the pressure of having the best grades is always present. I was thinking about what the number 40 actually means to me, and I stumbled to answer. What does it mean? It has to mean something if I’m putting myself through so much to get it I am one who strives to do my best, and the pressure and anxiety is making me question why.
Why am I putting so much pressure on myself that I struggle to go to school? Stress about the workload pressure on making good grades? It’s a lot. Even for me who has never found school to be very difficult I don’t find myself struggling very often, but that doesn’t make it any easier; if anything, it makes it more difficult. Many don’t see how that could be the case.
I’ve had several conversations where someone will say something along the lines of, “if you are so good at school, why don’t you like it?” This question and the many different variations I’ve heard continue to confuse me.
How does working hard to perform well at school take away the stress or dislike? I know from personal experience: it just adds to the stress and dislike I put myself through this so I’ll have more opportunities to live a successful life, and I’m trying to understand why. When I hear my alarm waking me up for school, I get ready for an entire day. I’m walking into day for those seven hours of learning Yikes.
Seven hours of boredom, frustration, and judgment. I’ve many classes that take so much energy to keep from falling sleep. People that feel that, because it’s a group project, they don’t have to do any of the work. Presentations that make me shake with nervousness. Peers that feel the need to make others feel bad about themselves.
Add all this to the stress, and you’re looking at the definition of misery I look at school and see a bubble of negativity, yet, at the perspective of another, their opinion will be completely different Adisa would go to school and be over the moon excited. She would want to experience all the different classes and subjects. She wouldn’t be so focused on the grades, because she’ll be so much more interested in the actual learning.
She would try her best to succeed and only see the stress as a small side effect of school. I try to have this perspective about school, especially because I’m so incredible lucky to have all that I do. But it is a constant struggle. I tell myself to think about school in the perspective of Adisa, who’d give anything to take my place. I find the positives because that’s what she would do.
She would work with the situation even if she doesn’t like everything about it. And I feel this should be easier to do than it actually is, but it’s not I challenge you to think about your life from the perspective of someone who’d give anything to take your place. Find the positives and encourage others to do the same. Know that it’s only a portion of your life, and it’s not the worst thing you could be doing.
I know it can be hard; trust me, I struggle with it everyday. Just remember: don’t take anything for granted and embrace the stuff you don’t like because there’s someone out there who’d give anything to take your place.