Grade school goody-goodies turned into high school worriers

FrannieCihunka & RyleeGregg

F: So, I’m sure we’ve all seen this tweet that’s been going around the Internet. 

R: “Anyone who was a ‘pleasure to have in class’ has an anxiety disorder now.” It’s absolutely true. It wasn’t until high school that I realized, “Boy, all this stuff I’m doing? Not healthy!”

F: Absolutely, and you never even realize it because these behaviors are so normalized. I just wanted to be the good kid that all my teachers liked, but then it becomes a need to please your teachers, which bleeds into parents and friends until you’re not even your own person anymore; you feel like you’re living for everyone else.

R: Absolutely, which is why this tweet summarizes some of the problems early childhood maturity can cause.

F:  Although you are a good little worker in class and think very highly of yourself, you still internalize everything as a child. In reality, if you mature emotionally early, you are actually really far behind your peers socially. But I thought it was cool that I grew up that early because that made me a “pleasure to have in class.”

R: I remember how proud of myself I was when adults would tell me how mature I was and I was like, “Finally, I’m doing all this stuff to come out on top, and it’s getting acknowledged.” 

F: Yeah, but it’s really just setting yourself back for the rest of your life because you hit high school and you realize none of that matters. You’ve been so concerned with being this perfect person (at, like, 8 years old) that you’ve missed out.

R: It makes so much sense. In grade school, I was considered the smart kid and it gave me pride, but it also made me put so much pressure on myself.

F:  Because you felt that you had to stay that way.

R: Yeah! We would do a Kahoot or something, and I felt like I had to come in first place because if someone else got first, they’d say, “Oh my gosh, I beat Rylee!” It shouldn’t have been a big deal, but it made me feel like I was failing! That’s ridiculous!

F: You automatically assume a role in your grade school society and you feel like you can’t stray from that. I remember one day in first grade, I was walking into my classroom in the morning, and my teacher was standing outside the classroom, and she said, “Frannie, you’re not smiling today! You always smile!” and I thought, “Oh. I’m the smiley girl, I have to be like this all the time.” 

R: I know! It’s made me seriously evaluate what makes me happy and what I want the point of my life to be because I don’t want it to be people pleasing. I feel like it started because of my older brother. He was the ‘smart kid,’ and that made me feel like people would expect the same, if not more, from me.

F: Yes! I did some research on the subject of early maturity and people pleasing and I found some effects it can have on your life, one of which is becoming the peacemaker. This means you can sense if a confrontation will end well for you or not and will avoid them accordingly.

R: This also goes on with people pleasing because I’ll want to express an emotion to a friend, but I don’t want to burden them, so I don’t let something out that I might really need to. 

F: You have two different personas: the caretaker and who you actually are. Since you take care of others so much and feel uncomfortable drawing boundaries, you feel like you are solely existing for other people, which drains you. And then you notice this, so you either isolate yourself and feel terrible, or start sharing and feel terrible.

R: Every time I go to therapy, my therapist will start out by having me name my current feeling so I actually have to think about the feelings I habitually push down. It’s so helpful because the exercise forces you to identify and actually feel your feelings.

F: Another big part of this is self doubt. If you’re doubting whether your feelings are good enough to be shared, then you doubt that they’re even valid at all.

R: I saw a post about having childhood issues that has to do with this as well. Some of the resulting effects are not being able to deal with other people’s anger without crying or disassociating, keeping in your truth to avoid conflict, extreme independence, not taking action for fear of punishment, and extreme people-pleasing to receive love!

F: CHECK! Oh my gosh, I did not come here to be called out like that. 

R: I feel you! That’s why it’s so hard to recover because it’s hard to figure out where these problems come from but you just have to end up accepting it. I do these things, and it’s okay. I’m gonna work on it. I might not make progress for a long time, but that’s okay.

F: Yeah, that’s one of the worst things about these mental illnesses because we both had pretty privileged childhoods, but we still have all these issues and it feels like there’s no reason for them. And there isn’t because there is no logical reason for mental illness.

R: I know, that’s why I think it’s important to talk about mental health. 

F: We just have to let people who deal with these problems know it’s okay to be struggling and it’s okay to put yourself first. Stop putting so much pressure on yourself to be perfect, and live your life as the person you are now. You don’t need to be perfect, you need to be you!

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The Network is the student newspaper of Marian High School, Nebraska's only Class A College-Preparatory School for young women.

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