Fear of Failure as a Reason of Anxiety

The exponential rise in anxiety throughout the youth in behalf of the morally accepted fear of failure has overwhelmed various concerned individuals. The pressure of maintaining a presence among social media, being an exceptional athlete, as well as a scholar puts constraints on the adolescent. The concern of deficiency submerges the youth until anxiety is prevalent in every daily task. The apprehension, dread, and panic may be perceived as a normal human reaction to an undesirable situation; however, with the incorporation of many research studies, the orderly human response differs significantly from that of anxiety. The depicted fragility of the youth admits to a dramatized view of nervousness- including an unnecessary sensation of panic- but the mental illness remains acknowledged as a critical conflict concerning the health of future generations.

The overwhelming pressures regarding the education system are creating a rise in mental illness. Drastically expanding expectations as well as a competition due to class rank and various knowledgeable measuring systems, results in a young individual struggling with a flight or fight response. Regular panic attacks, constant preparation for a strike, shortness of breath, fatigue, and various other life-altering side effects cause an individual to regard their emotions as destructive. The view of college has remained one of high importance to a prosperous future; however, despite the recognized value of higher education, many set limitations cause the journey towards a more extensive knowledge as one of many obstacles. “In high school, students are so consumed by the admissions process that they don’t prepare themselves academically for the next four-plus years,” developing an eventual panic regarding the future and deciding a career (Pringle). Due to the increase in price as well as selectivity, colleges are beginning to expect a consistent rate of perfect students.

Young individuals feel the need to meet those expectations, and represent perfection in every aspect of life. The constant pressure of remaining excellent merely to attend college is causing an emotional downfall throughout students. The mere thought of receiving a denial to a university that an individual has dreamed of being accepted into has become such an overwhelming fear it replicates a nightmare. In hopes of avoiding the horrendous discovery, students desire the highest GPA possible as a way to feel accepted and capable of accomplishments.

By participating in the most challenging courses among high school, students may engage in as many as possible. The workload, dedication requirements, and self-determination due to the complex classes cause a student to experience a feeling of dismay concerning education. Amber Lutz, a counselor at Kirkwood High School in St. Louis expressed, “The stakes seem to be higher, and pressure is alive and well” among the education system. The goal of education is evolving into a demanding and challenging experience, rather than one of self-realization and excitement. Every aspect of culture seems to be critical to the success of the future; therefore, every responsibility displays as an essential element towards college acceptance. Among students facing increasing rates of stress, 69 percent believe getting admitted into a good college or determining what occupation to do after high school is the cause of the pressure they endure (Smith, paragraph 2).

The acknowledgment of a mistake or rare defeat as one of a personal failure causes the recognition of anxiety — the pressure of continuously needing to be the best results in any obstacle appearing to be detrimental. Socially accepted self-deprecation among the youth is prevalent, and a constant feeling of panic emerges throughout the individual affected. The desire to represent perfection creates a sense of fear despite a minimal obstacle. “Young people are responding by reporting increasingly unrealistic educational and professional expectations for themselves. As a result, perfectionism is rising among millennials,” creating a sense of dread concerning a slight hindrance (Curran). The desire to represent perfection “ sets a person up for failure, disappointment, and negative self-evaluations,” and cause an individual to expect a standard that they can not achieve (Star). Between the years 1989 to 2016, “socially prescribed perfectionism… increased by as much as 32 percent,” due to many aspects such as body image and unrealistic standards presented among them (Collier).“ The increase in socially prescribed perfectionism makes for a compelling backdrop for almost epidemic levels of serious mental illness in young people,” therefore, contributing to the increase of anxiety among the youth (Curran and Hill). The high school experience rises with stress, fear, pressure, and commonly the incorporation of anxiety. Denial results in the feeling of being a failure and an individual’s goals require consistent persistence. Anxiety is increasing due to educational requirements and the non-involvement of mental health aid granted to students. “Increased numbers of students with mental health challenges attending colleges and a lack of financial resources” illustrate the reasoning for the lack of mental health aid among students, which in turn produce a detrimental crisis (Sommers). “The average university has one professional counselor for every 1,737 students,” which happens to be merely “one therapist for every 1,000 to 1,500 students” (Reilly).

One of the various pressures among teenagers that prompts anxiety includes the competition amongst students regarding education. The determination to be superior compared to opposing students has improved due to the selectivity regarding the college process. The high school experience replicates a ladder to success, but with the incorporation of many students with the same goal- it shifts into a struggle of proving an individual’s capabilities. Course selections, class rankings, and administration into exclusive clubs such as the National Honors Society provide an advantage among the competition; however, the determination to be the greatest among the exceptional students also proving an educational motivation becomes evident.

Students continuously feel that “there’s always one more activity, one more A.P. class, one more thing to do to get into a top college.” Teenagers feel that they are not reaching their potential, even if they are emotionally and physically exhausted. “The pressure is relentless and getting worse,” yet teenagers proceed to meet their educator’s expectations despite the adverse outcomes on their mental health (Pirani). The downfall of a student’s well-being displays among the majority of the youth, and the comprehension of having anxiety is shifting into a social norm. “Anxiety disorders… affect 25 percent of all teens and 30 percent of all teen girls”; therefore, causing the disorder to be perceived as not an uncommon occurrence (Nott).

The burdens due to expectations meeting competition create an urgency to be superior no matter the mental strain. The idea of class rank places people in a race against opposing students rather than their capabilities. “Pitting students against one another for the status of having the best grades takes the strychnine of extrinsic motivation and adds to it the arsenic of competition,” and the comprehension of “their peers not as friends or allies but as potential obstacles to their own success” may cause unnecessary rivalries (Strauss).

Instead of an individual doing their personal best, the skills of others determine their feeling of self-worth. Students view their class rank as their value and what type of individual they represent in Society. A ranking system produces competition in an environment that is previously cutthroat. Youth already have so much on their plate, and a competitive drive causes overwhelming stress.

The involvement of sports upon a student’s schedule results in multiple time-management flaws. The responsibility to perform at a professional level- yet continue to advance educationally- causes significant hardship for an individual. Misinterpreting “the rush of adrenaline as anxiety” allows an athlete to develop mental illness (Cuncic). The pressure of coaches, parents, and available scholarships creates tension regarding sports rather than satisfaction. In addition to the increased stress levels, the required time and consistent effort allow for an overload of emotions and utter exhaustion. “The amount of time required to become better at a particular sport can truly become a dominant force in a student athlete’s life,” due to the necessary dedication a burnout may become present. Burnout defines as “the absence of motivation as well as complete mental and physical exhaustion,” which closely relates to the symptoms of anxiety (Baugh).

The progression up to a critical performance can cause anxiety to intervene with an athlete completion. “The coordinated movement required by athletic events becomes increasingly difficult when your body is in a tense state,” such as when an athlete is encompassing feelings of insufficiency and fear for their skills. The side effects involved with anxiety ” may seriously interfere with [the] ability to compete” at a competition or sports event. The association of anxiety among athletes is due to “fears of disapproval, rejection, envy, abandonment, and annihilation” (Pikiewicz). “NCAA research shows that almost 85 percent of certified athletic trainers believe anxiety disorders are currently an issue with student-athletes on their campus,” due to the pressures involved with maintaining school work and athletic abilities (Goldman).

The desire for a scholarship is notably overwhelming due to the competition among athletes and the significant advance towards varsity athletics. The determination to be preferred over opposing athletes for opportunities creates stress and fear of failure. The maintaining of grades while proving sports expertise causes a disturbance among an individual’s well-being. Also, if an athlete does gain a scholarship they have to control their class rank as well as athletic performance to avoid losing the scholarship to another athlete.

The conflict with time management for athletes aid in the enforcement of anxiety among many individuals. The maintaining of a high GPA to resume sports, avoidance of significant injury, representing an ideal athlete and having a social presence enables the establishment of anxiety. “Athletes have less time in their day to deal with the average problems of being a student,” therefore individuals may not have problem-solving skills that evolve due to daily occurrences (Perry). Despite the personal growth developed due to the involvement of time management skills, learning how to handle a loss, and managing goals, an athlete’s significant focus on maintaining athletic success may ignore the constant emotional management necessary among the youth; producing an unstable mentality, which can then develop into a life-altering mental illness.

Once an individual accumulates their presence among college admissions the reality of the economic obstacles concerning debt also become present. Many students ought to balance work, education, and athletics in hopes of receiving scholarships that determine their ability to go to college. The acknowledgment of future debt due to the appeal of a further education may cause anxiety in many individuals- especially those who already face financial obstacles. The fear of not achieving the necessary cost of a college education can cause an ambitious student to experience emotions of grief, dread, and frustration. “The average student loan debt for Class of 2017 graduates was $39,400,” and that reality can envoke a sense of panic among students from less fortunate backgrounds, despite any ambition towards seeking higher education (Kantrowitz). In a study published in 2013 by Anxiety, Coping, and Stress, a further explanation stated,  “those with greater financial strain perceived more stress, had more symptoms of depression, anxiety, and ill-health” (White).

The emotional effects of debt are closely related to the obtainment of a mental illness such as anxiety. The increased levels of stress among an individual with debt- especially those with student debt- can create a downward spiral resulting in a struggle with the maintaining of sense level-headedness. The thought of paying back debt causes “a rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, dry mouth, a headache and the shakes,” which in turn can prevent mental health from prevailing (Fay). “About one-third of millennials regret going to college because of the debt they have found themselves in upon graduating,” and due to the increasing prices of college attendance the amount of debt is exponentially increasing (Cambridge Credit Counseling Corporation). Millennials can hardly afford college currently, but due to the increased levels of debt college students may encounter higher levels of anxiety due to their financial struggles.

 

College students have to carry the weight of their student debt along with their increasing amount of bills. “The average student has $37k in debt,” yet they are required to maintain survival and good credit (Cambridge Credit Counseling Corporation). The incapability to pay back their debt causes students to panic about their future financial stability. With developing fears about financial obstacles, it can affect a student’s social life, confidence regarding economics, and opinion on the future. The downfall of a student’s self-esteem may slowly develop into a feeling of insecurity and doubt- which may conclude to be anxiety. Emily Farris, an undergrad from a private school in New York, demonstrates the sense of panic debt causes among students, “Unfortunately, now I feel like it’s futile to even try to financially crawl out of debt. Because of our student loans, it’s just never going to happen. I have a very negative outlook on money, and make poor decisions because of it” (Farris). Among a survey of 1,000 loan borrowers- majority representing individuals with student debt- “More than 61 percent of respondents said they fear their student loan debt worries are spiraling out of control,” and in addition to the fear induced due to debt, “70 percent reported suffering from headaches due to the stress of it” (Insler).

Along with the overwhelming stress of future debt, student’s have intense present day workloads to complete. The number of classes compared to the levels of homework becomes more unreasonable with the addition of college classes. “On average teens are spending one-third of their study time feeling stressed, anxious, or stuck,” therefore, the obtainment of knowledge becomes linked to an experience of high-stress intake (Princeton Review). Student’s are having less free time to rest and relax their minds, so they are always on high alert. With the exclusion of relaxation, a student is more inclined to feel overwhelmed, stressed, and exhausted.

With the incorporation of a heavy workload, students have to stay up late and minimize their amount of sleep every night to complete homework assignments. “Researchers have found that the relationship between sleep problems and anxiety is bidirectional,” therefore, the lack of sleep can cause an anxiety disorder (Smith). Further proving that a heavy workload increases not merely stress but also the chances of developing a mental health disorder.  “School, homework, extracurricular activities, sleep, repeat— that’s what it can be for some of these students,” and the unhealthy repetition demonstrates an increase of symptoms closely related to anxiety (Leonard).

Along with an ambitious student’s heavy workload, the desire to maintain a presence among social media replicates that of an unhealthy relationship. The incorporation of sustaining a social media following provokes emotions as life-altering as those related to anxiety. The “compare-and-despair factor” causes the youth to compare their own lives to those of others, which can result in a desire to replicate perfection rather than being genuine (anxiety.org). A self-consciousness of every apparent flaw develops can quickly into a mental illness due to the negative outlook on life. The quantity of likes becomes equivalent to self-worth and the symbol of an individual’s value.

“You can compare your own popularity with that of your peers, and manage that adolescent ‘fear of missing out’ (FOMO) by continually monitoring what’s going on socially,” and the incorporation of acknowledging every social event creates a desire to attend every event that occurs (Davey). The ability to compare popularity, appearances, and worth based off the approval of others- often being those of strangers- creates a false reality that may shift into a negative perspective on life. Individuals desire to reflect on the experiences of others rather than focus on their own needs and wants. They grow more self-conscious about their image, and they wish to change their personality leading to a low self-value and anxious thoughts.

The older generations feel that the youth “are impatient, lazy and entitled as a result of bad parenting, addiction to cell phones and Facebook depression,” and due to their increased sensitivity, anxiety is dramatized to support their emotions (Sinek). In addition to the sensitivity that the youth envoke, they “ aren’t equipped to handle the world’s challenges,” and they consider minor inconveniences a significant obstacle. The older individuals believe that the World is at the youth’s fingertips, but they only use it to benefit themselves in every social aspect, rather than make any advances economically. Also, they consider anxiety to be the dramatized aftereffect of obstacles that the youth developed for themselves.

However, despite the opinions of the older generation and their comprehension of anxiety, “Millennials were revealed to still be the most anxious generation” (Collier). The differing experiences the youth have to face due to the changing society cause a more stressful mindset, and anxiety becomes prevalent in many individuals- especially students. “More teenagers come from homes with divorced parents than ever before,” resulting in increased levels of stress. In addition, “More drugs are available and accessible to teens today,” causing addiction and the development of mental illness to increase (Nott). Due to the changing society and expectations of the youth, the rise of mental illness has become a topic of discussion. The corrected actuality of youth anxiety has provided comprehension of the mental illness, and the reasonings including education, finances, family struggles, and social life drastically alter the presence of anxiety. The pressures and obstacles involved in time management increase the rates of stress, which contributes to the rise of mental illness.

Overall, the morally accepted fear of failure causes anxiety among the youth that can be perpetuated by other leading causes- mainly contributed to education and finances. The overwhelming contribution of anxiety causes panic regarding everyday occurrences. The consistent struggle between fight and flight is present among the youth due to the increased pressures in every aspect of their lifestyles. The expanded comprehension of anxiety demonstrates the improvement as a whole, but it is essential for society to understand thoroughly the obstacle that the majority of the youth are facing to further aid in the awareness of the mental illness.

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