Feeling Anxious?


Abigail Harper

“Anxiety is things that cause us to worry, for good or bad,” said Mr. Stevenson, Timpview’s AP psychology teacher. Timpview students are really, really, good at worrying. We worry about our homework load. We worry about our friends. We worry about our families. We worry about making our parents, coaches, leaders, and teachers proud. We worry about how we look and who we’re going to ask to the next dance. We worry about where our next meal will come from, either because we have to decide between Chick-fil-A or Cafe Rio, or because there is no food at home. We worry about the impending doom of college, and in seminary we worry about the state of our eternal souls. One only has to walk the halls of Timpview to hear these and other worries that burden teenagers. A cynic might say that life sucks and we all have to deal with the worry that weighs us down more than our 50 pound backpacks.

But there is a different approach. We don’t have to worry day in and day out until we break. We don’t have to stress until we’re sick. The cynic is right to a degree. Stress is a burden everyone will carry in life, but instead of just “sucking up” bitterness until we wretch, we can build capability until we taste sweet success.

The first step is to be honest with ourselves. No one is more qualified than you to tell yourself what you can do. Teenagers are good at lying, especially to themselves. It’s easy to get caught in the trap of comparison. Others seem to be able to do so much, others are so talented in a certain area, and so, we reason, we must be able to do the same. There is a persistent idea of “I have to be good at everything otherwise I’m not good enough.”

In response to this idea, Stevenson said, “No. People have different genetic makeups and people have different strengths and weaknesses.”

Know your own capabilities and know that those are what make you unique. “Be honest with your abilities” said Mr. Stevenson because, as Dumbledore said “It is our choices that show who we truly are, far more than our abilities.”

Once you’ve figured out where your abilities lie that’s when you can begin to grow.  “Go one step past that but don’t go 15 steps past your abilities,” said Stevenson. It is good to push yourself, and as you continually push yourself through highschool you’ll find that your senior self can enjoy a workload that would have crushed your freshman self.

Building a skill set is an important part of this because, as Mr. Stevenson put it, “stress usually comes from things we’re not good at. When we build up a skill set then the only thing we have to worry about is setting aside the time.” Being competent is the first step in being successful.

The last step is coping when the worry does come, because it will. Like fertilizer, stress can help teenagers grow, but not if we are drowning in it. Because there are stresses in life that we cannot control or remove from our lives, Mr. Stevenson outlined 5 basics that everyone can do to reduce and manage stress. They are also 5 basic things teenagers often find exceptionally challenging. Get the right amount of sleep. Find a way to exercise. Eat healthy. Have good friends or social support system. Find purpose or meaning in your life. Psychologists also encourage meditation, which makes some teens groan as we don’t all aspire to be Buddhist monks, but look at it from a new point of view. Meditation can be any activity that takes the stress from your mind. Baking, painting, playing a sport, playing an instrument, drawing, photography, hiking, laughing, gardening, reading and so, so many others. Find your outlet and let it be your outlet. Not for competition, not to impress. For you. If you love it, it is enough.