Hello everybody, welcome to episode 147 of Optimal Living Advice, the podcast where we take any questions you might have about the many struggles of life and get them answered for you here on the show. I’m your host, certified life coach Greg Audino. Today we’re going to be taking a question from a high schooler about high school stress and being properly prepared for the next phase of life, but I have a hunch what she’s alluding to is that same anxiety that tends to follow all of us as we prepare for the next stage. Can we save ourselves from this cycle? Let’s see. Here’s today’s question…
QUESTION: “As a senior in high school, I struggle with a few first world problems, such as finding ways to save money for college, managing the stress from school and home life, and how to prepare ourselves for our future in the adult world.“
Does High School Prepare You for Adulthood?
Ok, short and sweet. Great question.
I will say that one of the most popular complaints from people after graduating from college and being in the “real world” is that they wished the school system had better prepared them for the things you’re mentioning as opposed to spending time on nonsense like calculus.
I’m one of the people who also agrees with this – it would be nice if the school system better prepared its students for every day things you’re mentioning like stress management, saving money and so on.
So I might answer this question for you as if I were answering it for my high school self.
On the one hand, you can’t be waiting around for the education system to teach you these things, nor can you wait around at any point in your life expecting certain entities to teach you things.
If it’s not happening where you expect it, that’s too bad, but the onus is now on you to go find it for yourself.
Where Can You Learn More about “The Real World”?
So if you really want to learn about these things, take it upon yourself to seek outside sources. You’d be surprised by how many professionals are willing to take an hour to sit down with and help high school students.
You could easily set up an appointment at maybe a bank or your local Fidelity office to learn more about saving for college.
You could talk to your in-school counselor or a therapist about stress management techniques both at home and in school.
There’s always someone out there you can go to for help, and of course there are countless websites that can offer valuable information and advice. These things may take time to learn and it might take you a lot of practice and patience to start seeing differences, but the differences are worth it, and life in the real world will rarely comes with quick solutions or quick fixes.
Preparing for the Future vs. Enjoying Your Youth
Now while it’s good to be aware of these things and have some sort of plan in place or understanding of them, I’d also encourage you to strike a very distinct balance between preparing and also not missing out on your youth.
What I’m saying is that in spite of all of this, it’s still very important that you enjoy being a high schooler and the benefits that come from being the age you’re currently at, because you’re approaching the end of an era, and it’s a time you’ll never get back.
Even those who don’t enjoy their high school experiences often reflect longingly on what they’d do if they could go back to that time in their lives. There’s a very unique freedom you have a chance to indulge in right now that will gradually change as more responsibilities arrive in your lap.
High School Stress and Adulting Problems
All of the problems you mention having are problems that you get better at solving as you age; they’re problems that many people suffer with their entire lives.
Obviously this is not ideal, but it’s a youthful mistake to think that you can and will be so on top of things and get them figured out when you’re young. You mustn’t put too much pressure on yourself to know all that there is to know about them.
We like to think of ourselves as old souls. It often feels smart, responsible and comforting to be planning ahead and seemingly have the upcoming phase of life figured out, but we all grow at our own paces.
Much of the joy and connection with our peers found at any given age comes from going through struggles together and learning as you go; relishing in the parts of your life that are messes and thinking back to simpler times. There’s no shame in not outgrowing yourself.
It’s often when we try to skip too far ahead and jump into things that we’ve not naturally arrived at that causes midlife crises down the road, because we crave something that we missed and can’t get back without making some (probably unhealthy) returns.
High School Stress: Conclusion
In summary, it’s never a bad idea to be ahead and have a plan, but in a culture that’s constantly shoving success down the throats of adults and kids alike, it can be very difficult to simply relax and let yourself make some mistakes that you’ll learn lessons from.
The sad part, of course, is that this is much of what life is about. So do what you can to embrace both – the knowledge to accommodate and look after yourself, and the release and spontaneity of figuring it out as you go along.
I do want to add one final note about a part of your question that I can’t help but to address: the “first world problems” comment you made. What you’ve described are indeed first world problems, but they’re still problems for you relative to what you’ve experienced in your life so far.
It sounds like you’re grateful to now have worse problems (which is wonderful), but be careful too to not shame yourself or belittle your problems just because others have it worse.
Just like there’s an in-between to being prepared and letting the uncertainties of life take you, there’s also an in-between of giving yourself a break for being stressed out by problems that others would wish to have, working through those problems, and being grateful all along.
Another one in the books, folks. Thank you again to the girl who sent this question in – a really enjoyable one to answer and hopefully today’s episode was helpful not only to her, but to others who are facing the same concerns not on a “larger” scale, but on an “older” scale. I know I am.
If you’ve got questions of your own you’d like some help and support with, go ahead and send them in and we’ll answer them for you as we did today.
You can email questions to us at advice AT oldpodcast DOT com
Feel free to get in there. That’ll do it, though, so thank you for coming today and I hope you’ll all join me for the next one. Until then, everyone.