THIS IS MUNSTER: Under Pressure

Sarah Espiritu, Guest Columnist

MHS has a student population 1,616—that’s 1,616 distinct voices, with countless perspectives and experiences. Crier will highlight these voices in our new special series, This is Munster, which will be four installments—starting now and continuing through April.

No one is denying that every teenager in 2021 is held to high expectations, whether that be from their teachers, peers, parents or themselves. The pressures of our future push us to succeed, yet burdens us with adult issues that we are not trained to handle. 

As a junior in high school, I am within the peak of what it means to be a teenager of this day and age. However, I will not be speaking on the general trials and tribulations of the average teen, because that is not all that I face. I am a 16-year-old girl, navigating life through a warped lens that is the mental health experience as an Asian-American teenager.

 From a young age, my mother installed a drive in me that allows me to achieve great things, but if left unchecked, could spiral out of control. Since third grade, my mom ensured that I had straight A’s, enrolled me in the “gifted and talented” program and put me in many extracurricular activities. I appreciate that she did not want me to fail, yet that mindset is deeply embedded in my character. 

Now that I am older, she doesn’t push as hard, despite her strictness. Now that I have been primed for success, I have become my greatest critic. Many of my peers resonate with the idea of “academic validation.” However, my issue progresses further than that. Not only do I want validation from my teachers and test scores, I want validation in every aspect of my life, including in sports, relationships, clubs, and ultimately society. This need to please everyone around me is rooted in the expectations my parents held me to when I was seven.

Growing up in an immigrant household, I have been told the possibilities of what I could do. I have been told what I cannot and should not do. I have been told what I must do. I grew up conflicted, feeling guilty that I was not doing more, when my mother sacrificed her family to live in America where she and her children could be whatever they wanted to be.

 I also feel tired, that I am working myself into an unhealthy state and I never have time to breathe. I don’t want to write a narrative that makes the Asian experience overwhelming; however, when it comes to the matter of asking for help, it’s difficult to be heard. In my experience, mental health does not exist. My mother says, “It’s all in your head.” Yes, mom, it is all in my head—which is exactly the problem.