Our Hierarchy of Human Stress

I had an insightful conversation with a friend some time ago about how stupid high-schoolers act when they get “stressed”. We compared our stress to that of theirs and it was obvious that these high-schoolers are overreacting. Our conversation/chat went like:

me: I really don’t like hell week, makes me think how lucky HS students are..

friend: i know! and it annoys me to death how they complain that theyre gonna die due to stress

me: IKR? 8-| They’re like “OMG dance namin hindi pa tapos /wrist” (our dance isn’t done yet) At least they have a dance..

friend: ROFL!!! and like, “OMG THESIS PAPER. GONNA DIIIEE /wrist” and i’m like, whadibuurrr. 8-|

Yeah.. that was the distressed conversation between two university students. After our chat, I realized that there was a pattern of stress and complaints amongst the various age groups.

During pre-school we really didn’t care much about anything so we would do whatever we wanted to do and our parents paid much attention to us. During our grade school days our stress would increase. We’d get home-works, projects, tests and etc. I remember looking back at my kindergarten and pre-school years (I remember my pre-school years, somewhat) and I loved the idea of just running around and finger-painting on every wall on every corner of the room. The sense of freedom but with some minor disciplining. But that freedom was only limited around our parents, beyond that, we were suppressed; same goes for grade school (in my account anyway).  After grade school, we’d graduate into high-school and our stress would increase much, much more. The added pressure of getting into a good college and making our parents proud was very much the whole thing. Our lessons would get harder, the lectures get longer, our exams much more difficult and our responsibility much greater. Although we would have a little more freedom than in grade-school. I was allowed to go to the mall alone, but I had to tell my folks. This increase of responsibility and increase of freedom was to teach us “kids” to be independent. But in the end this contributed to the stress. If we fucked up, we’re gonna be fucked up.

After high-school, college is the next thing to tackle. I’m a liberal arts university student (I like saying university) and we get a shit load of articles, readings and papers. There are weeks in where I would sleep at 1 am and wake up at 5 am just so that I could study for my exam on that day. Normally I would sleep at midnight and wake up at 7 am, then leave 8am to get to my 9:40 class. But no, college loves to fuck up my body clock. Sometimes I would have to cut classes to finish my paper (do take note that I have so much more than just one paper to do in a day). And then when I finally finish the paper, I would be 30 minutes for the class in where I would need to submit that paper. Most of the time I don’t even eat lunch anymore; I spend it on studying and making final touches on papers. Next week I have a “midterm” paper and a weekly Theology paper (other classes are only doing interviews, we make weekly papers… fuck) to submit, an exam on Philosophy (which I need to perfect or else I fail the course :| ), an exam on Philippine History and I need to watch a play for another paper I need to make the week after. Now all that was scheduled from last week, there could be more when the week starts, which usually happens. I still have 4 final papers to submit before the start of finals week, then of course there’s finals week / HELL WEEK. I just don’t see why high-schoolers complain so much. We do this for more than 3 years, then HOPEFULLY something good happens. We look back during our high-school days, seeing how lucky those young bastards are not having to cope with this kind of stress. Yeah…

But then we college people should have no right to complain about our stress as well. Surely enough, all these problems with papers and exams do take a toll on our hours of sleep, but the adults have it much worse. We have our parents to back us up in everything. We (or some) don’t have to work for our tuition, food, shelter, clothing, gas, commute, internet, TV etc. etc. Because during college, we have more freedom than our responsibility. We can go anywhere at anytime, but we must be responsible for our action. But of course we’re not totally free, our parents, school are still their to guide our inexperienced minds.

After college we go look for work (or work looks for us, if we were studious enough, which I doubt we are) to earn a living, not money, a living. Because from that point on we are totally alone and completely independent whether we like it or not. Not only that, but the world outside the educational system is cruel, harsh and unfair. You think your ‘significant other’ dumping you is the worst thing that can happen? Why not look at the perspective of the adults. When you loose your significant other, you have friends and family to back you up. You would be in an emotional distress. BUT, you still eat 2-3 meals a day, you still have the clothes on your back, still have internet access to play your stupid Farmville games, and most importantly you still get an education. Now when an adult loses his/her job (depending on his/her position in the company) that would mean that he/she would not have a weekly/monthly salary, which would mean no money for food, water, electricity and rent. Although those four later said look nothing to you when in text, just imagine, you have no money at all to pay for necessities. People need money in order to survive, literally, and that is the sad truth. Adults bear this heavy weight of their own lives while we college, high-school and grade-schoolers have our parents to look out for us.

Adults would then look back at their days in college and see how lucky we are to still be studying, sipping coffee at Starbucks while studying for an exam or lying around in the grass while reading a book at your partner’s lap. How lucky we are, I guess. We don’t have to worry about the bills or where to get our food or retaining our connection to the net. All that important responsibility would fall on our parents’ shoulders.

After a while, some adults would want to marry and start a family. Now that is stress. To raise a family while working for that families future. I still can’t imagine how parents do it. To not only take the responsibility of their own lives but also their children/s’ life/lives. They’re like super heroes or something. But here, something changes. They know that being single was much less straining and stressful, but they wouldn’t trade it for the world for their family (for “normal” families).

After a couple of decades, their kids would be off to college then off to work then they’d have kids of their own. I’m not sure if grandparents have as much stress as adults but they do still experience stress. The stress of not seeing their kids all the time (unlike before), the stress of being not so mobile as before and most definitely the stress of being fulfilled. During my course in Psychology, I learned that old people go through a ‘regret or fulfilled’ stage. I always hear old people saying “How nice it was to be young”. I still can’t grasped their full view yet since I haven’t even lived that long.

Then in the end, the inescapable eternal rest.

Who knows, they may be looking down on us saying “How good it must be to be alive. To experience all those mortal emotions. Love, hatred, fulfilment, remorse, happiness, sadness. What I’d give to be ALIVE”

The moral of the story? Nothing really. If there was, I would say ‘don’t try to  change on purpose’. Heraclitus of Ephesus says that, everything changes. A baby that is born isn’t the same as the person that has grown up 30 years later and a seed that was planted isn’t the same seed that grew into a tree 100 years later. Everything changes. Yet Parmenides of Elea says that nothing has changed, everything is permanent (hence the name Parmenides). The person that died yesterday is the same person that emerged from his/her mother’s womb 90 years ago. The tree that was cut down today will be the same tree when turned into a table 10 years later.

Let’s think twice before we complain about others, instead, let’s just focus on ourselves, shall we?

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