We face stressors in our day-to-day life. This is nothing new, even as a child I’m sure you can remember the torment of going to school. We spend years of education, gaining both useful and useless information. We invest countless hours of work (and tears) striving to achieve the best exam results or fancy extra-curricular activities in return for big batches of debt that loom over us. Everything is motivated by the need to build a CV that will get a 2-second scan by a potential employer (or nowadays, an AI algorithm) to determine if we checked enough boxes.
The pressure to achieve puts a huge amount of stress on mental health.
In fact, Childline revealed that it has delivered 1,414 counselling sessions to young people stressed about their results. This is a 50% rise over the last 4 years. In today’s society, we are seeing more and more teens crumble under the pressures and anxieties to do well at everything. According to BBC News in the UK 1 in 8 young people experience anxiety or depression which is a rise of 50% compared to 20 years ago.
Even I, somewhat blindly, followed the recipe to achieve what was expected of me: you must work hard and put the time in and you will get good grades. If you get good grades you must go to a top university. If you go to a top university you will get a good job. If you get a good job you will be financially stable and this will make you happy.
When did learning become a part of life that consists of ‘musts’ instead of ‘wants’?
People will fight for the right to have an education and yet in our society we have infected the opportunity of learning with toxic pressure. Instead of growing into my independence and creativity I simply felt pressures increase as I climbed up the education ladder. I had to choose the ‘academic’ subjects that would lead me to a ‘meaningful’ degree so as not to ‘waste’ my education. I, like most of society, had the belief that the more money I made the happier I would be ingrained in me without realising. I was so focussed on the destination I was passively jumping through hoops waiting for this time to pass so I could get into the real world and get a real job.
So I decided to stray from the recipe. The night before I was due to leave for university I decided I wanted to go straight into work. Instead of studying how people interact (I was off to Nottingham Uni to study Sociology) I chose to actually interact with people (queue entering the PR world). I did my research and found the PRCA Apprentice scheme and was lucky enough to be hired by Gallium Ventures.
Still a newbie to both the PR and working world I’m learning a million things everyday. I’m not trying to preach that apprenticeships are the future and universities should be abolished. I simply believe that in an ever-changing society the education system seems to be following a very un-chaninging, outdated, ‘one-size fits all’ approach. Maybe its time teenagers should get the chance to have some independence.
Whatever direction the industry moves, this is just the beginning.