People Pleaser

First person expose on the common high schooler's experience


“What we’re endorsing is that everyone, 12 and up, be screened … at least once a year,” says Dr. Rachel Zuckerbrot of Columbia University of depression, as only 50% of children with depression are diagnosed before the age of 18.

There are a seemingly infinite amount of stressors a person, teenagers specifically, can face in their everyday life. The most prominent one is not school, sports, or even something social, but it’s the idea of having to please others.

Being a people pleaser isn’t just being nice to everyone you meet. In the era of nothing less than over 4.0 GPAs it takes a lot more than kindness to truly please everyone. If you get less than a 4.0, you’re not smart enough, but if you get over that you’re proclaimed a “try hard”.

It’s overwhelming and exhausting, having to do things to make other people happy. Clubs, sports, leadership positions, grades, and other activities make you a seemingly better and well-rounded person. That’s what everyone wants right? It is expected of everyone to be an all-around “good person”, but it is definitely a daunting task.

For me, that question is a no-brainer, I do things to impress my family, my brother specifically. The thing is, my brother is a very smart guy. He worked hard in high school and is graduating from Harvard University in the spring of 2018.

You’d think that would be a lot of pressure put on me from my parents, but I think the most I feel pressure out of anyone I know is from myself. In all honesty, my parents tell me and my other brother that we are nothing like each other, we are all individuals and by no means do they expect either of us to be like the others. Never have I ever been compared to my oldest brother by my parents. However, I do it to myself all of the time.

I don’t see myself as nearly as smart as my brother. I’m not even close to being as interested as he is in math, science, and computers. I overcompensate by doing clubs and working overtime on my sport just so maybe I could one day compare to him.

From my own experience, I can’t help but think as I look at my peers’ faces as they break down over massive stacks of homeworks and study guides, who are we doing it for? Who are we trying to impress?

Sometimes you just have to sit back and ask yourself who are you really doing it for?”

Sophomore Jaime Martinez is in all honors classes, with the only exception being AP Human Geography. Other than the already large workload those classes give him, Martinez does an astounding number of extracurriculars including, but certainly not limited to Model United Nations, Key Club, Student Council, French and Spanish Clubs, and the Multicultural Student Union.

He immensely enjoys all of these events, and they help keep him busy, but one of the most compelling reasons to participate in all of these activities is to get into college; “The more activities you do, the better you will look to colleges,” Martinez said. However, college isn’t the only thing on his mind. When asked who he was trying to impress, there was no hesitation, “My parents, of course,” he said.

Although the multitude of clubs he is in and the weight of trying to make his parents happy can be extremely stressful at most times, he says he also does so many activities to see how far he can push himself. He claims he rarely gets overly stressed, and he deals with what he has for now but he knows he is at his limit and if he adds just one more thing, he will be overly stressed.

Akshana Dassanaike, another sophomore, is another student just like Jaime Martinez. He takes all honors classes on top of AP Calculus BC, AP Human Geography, and AP Chemistry at NASH. Not only is he extremely focused on academics, he is on the water polo states team and in many clubs.

Like Martinez, he volunteers a lot not only outside of school but through North Allegheny’s Key Club. On top of that, he is in speech and debate and student council. When asked why he does these activities, Dassanaike began by saying he likes to volunteer and help his community, but then I asked him the real reason why, and he said he mostly does all of those things for college.

Of course, he does feel stressed a lot of the time, but he has said that he mostly feels stressed more often before a big test or project. Overall, he wants to impress others, his parents, and himself. He said that he would never be able to keep up with all of the added stress the activities pile on if he did not have an internal drive to do so.