From New York Magazine article “Why You Never Truly Leave High School”:
…if humans really do feel things most intensely during adolescence, and if, at this same developmental moment, they also happen to be working out an identity for the first time—“sometimes morbidly, often curiously, preoccupied with what they appear to be in the eyes of others as compared with what they feel they are,” as the psychoanalyst Erik Erikson wrote—then it seems safe to say this: Most American high schools are almost sadistically unhealthy places to send adolescents.
I have a 14 year old daughter who is a freshman in a public high school. A very young freshman, entering 9th grade 3 weeks short of her 14th birth day. Still, she loves high school, she is a straight A student with an occasional B+ in History :), she also is a very accomplished athlete excelling in Volleyball and has very big dreams as far as Vball is concerned. She made the varsity Volleyball team in her freshman year (good or bad, but it was her goal and she did it). She is absolutely passionate about horses and most notably horsemanship. She loves to ride, to learn, to teach tricks to horses, to spend time with them talking, walking, or just sitting in the stall, reading, enjoying each-others’ company.
She has her bad days…but those are far and between. After school she does her homework when she can, as her time is always split between the barn and the Volleyball training facility. She almost never chooses her high school friends over Volleyball or horses, the latter two always do come first. Depending on the season, she will ride more or play more Vball, but they both are equally important and are huge parts of her life, her identity.
She is ridiculously thorough, committed and responsible. To the point where on those days when she had over 4 hours of homework and a 3 hour Volleyball practice I will actually tell her not do all the homework. I say it is okay to fail sometimes, that her sanity, her rest and her health are much more important, and yet she will never go to bed unless she has a plan of how all the homework can be completed and turned in on time.
She is confident and comfortable in her skin, and yet after and reading this article I understood more about those days when she is not her happy, strong, positive self – school may have that detrimental effect on her too. No one in our family has ever gone through the US educational system, she is the first, and now I understand a little better… this article was very empowering and educational for me.
I always knew she will be okay. She is a great kid, kind, big heart, loving, open minded. I think we are doing okay….
Her little sister will be raised the same way – with much love, many opportunities to try and explore, but maybe with a little less pushing 😦 When she finds her passion, we will support and encourage her and hopefully this will give her her sister’s confidence, maturity and determination. By the time she is in high school, anything she encounters there, she can just step over it with knowledge and assurance that she has a life of her own outside of the doors of her school, she has people in her life who are much more important to her growing up then a bunch of lost teenagers.
At the time they experience the most social fear, they have the least control; at the time they’re most sensitive to the impressions of others, they’re plunked into an environment where it’s treacherously easy to be labeled and stuck on a shelf.
The link to the article:
To your health,