An abyss of stress


This is what my inbox looks like lately.

Ever since my brother graduated from high school two years ago, I have had a new constant in my life. Not good or bad necessarily, just always there, looming over me, making it so that I have a void of stress constantly expanding.

I hear my parents talk about it when they think I can’t hear. My grandparents, aunts, and uncles whisper about it when we gather together. My siblings, older brother and younger sister, both question me about it every time the topic arises.

If the subject emerges, then of course my friends and I talk about it too. Most of them all have the answers that I am still convinced don’t exist for me. Teachers and counselors mention it as well. School revolves around it and assures that we students don’t forget about it.

Along with that, endless emails fill my inbox. At first, it was exciting. I would take my time to look through each one. However, I soon realized that they all said the same things and asked the same questions. Now, I just delete them. 

These are the same exact questions that my family and friends ask me. The same questions that I don’t have satisfactory answers to. Every time it comes up, I am forced to say, “I don’t know yet.”

An infinite number of questions can originate from one seemingly simple topic: college.

College. What college do I want to go to? Do I want it to be close or far from home? Am I looking for a bigger school or a smaller school? What do I want to major in?

An infinite number of questions can originate from one seemingly simple topic: college.

As a junior, I obviously have no experience with anything concerning college. I haven’t even spent more than a week away from my family. But, ever since my brother graduated from high school two years ago, all of the pressure has been on me because I’m next to leave. 

These questions are expected to be answered. As a person who likes to have a solid plan for practically everything, the fact that I don’t know what to do concerning college is already stressful. Those who know me will expect me to know exactly what I want. So, when I am constantly bombarded with what is essentially a reminder of the fact that I don’t have everything figured out, I feel as though I am being buried in failure.

How is a sixteen-year-old supposed to know what they want to do with their life? And why are they expected to?

There is nowhere that I can escape to in order to avoid it, even for just a little while. My family, friends, school, and even my phone are constantly reminding me. All of my decisions come back to one thing: how will this affect my chances of getting accepted into an adequate college?

The moment that my brother graduated from high school, everyone in my life has been watching me. Whenever someone asks me what might as well be an unanswerable question, the void of anxiety expands until it feels as if it will never diminish.

Until I am finally able to provide the responses to the unanswerable questions, this crushing feeling will never go away. Why would it? I am expected to make a huge decision that will have a permanent influence on the rest of my life.

Until I figure it out, I will remain in an abyss of stress.