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Mind Matters | Alone & helpless

Mind Matters | Alone & helpless

I’m 15 years old and I’m studying in the ninth grade. I've been going through a lot lately. I’m struggling academically, and my teachers constantly compare me to my friends which only adds to my stress. Despite my efforts, I can’t meet their expectations and that makes me sad and I lose motivation. I have repeatedly requested my parents to put me in a different school but they don’t listen to me.  I feel so alone and helpless. I just want someone to understand that this is hurting me. What can I do?

Answered by Dristy Moktan, psychosocial counselor

The teenage phase is often a challenging stage of self-discovery. We are constantly trying to figure out who we are, and a supportive environment is crucial for expressing ourselves freely. It’s a good thing that you put the effort into writing this message to reach out for help. This shows a great deal of self-awareness and your willingness to deal with the challenges from your end.

Academic struggles can feel overwhelming, but it’s important to remember that academic excellence isn’t for everyone, and that’s perfectly okay. Let’s normalize the idea that success can come in many forms. We all have unique strengths and abilities. Instead of just focusing on areas of difficulty, why don’t we explore our passions and interests?  Delving into your hobbies can bring a sense of comfort, acceptance, and the very self-worth you seem to be seeking.

Sometimes, parents and teachers, in their desire to motivate, might make comparisons or comments that might feel harsh on young people leading them to become disappointed and self critical. For readers who are parents and teachers, the key is listening to them. When young people express struggles, it’s crucial to listen and validate their feelings, rather than dismiss their concerns.

It’s never an ideal way to make comparisons instead embrace their individuality and work together to find solutions. Parents and teachers might be their only support system and when they don’t get that support it’s likely that they might end up not trusting other people around their circle too.

And for children and students who are facing this, it’s very important to discover who you are.  Reflect on who you are, not just who others expect you to be. Let’s take the opportunity to know ourselves better because that’s when we can communicate our needs better with the people around us. Knowing oneself also empowers us to communicate our needs assertively—expressing our thoughts and feelings directly without holding back, respectfully, and without fear of disappointing anyone.

About the conversation that you had with your parents about changing schools, do you think you could be more expressive about why you’re requesting this by assertively addressing your concerns?

One technique that you could use while communicating your needs could be: I feel [emotion] when [situation] because [impact] and I need you to [your needs along with what can be done to make it better]

In your case with your parents the wordings may look something like “I’m feeling overwhelmed when my teachers compare me to my friends because my efforts aren’t acknowledged, even though I’m trying my best in school which is impacting my motivation. I believe a new school that caters to my needs could be a better fit for me.”

Despite your efforts if you still think your needs aren’t met, consider building a broader support system apart from your parents. A trusted adult can be a listening ear and an advocate for you. They might even help you communicate your concerns to your parents.