By Bethany Hall
Eighteen and Anxious
Editor’s Note: Since this is our Women’s Issue, and our columnist Dan Hall is the father of FIVE girls, we thought it would be fun to hear from his youngest daughter this month. Enjoy his introduction to Bethany.
Dan: Bethany slid into the world sideways, throwing a rooster tail from day one! There are many adjectives to describe her, but “boring” is not one of them. She is passionate, loyal, adventurous, and compassionate. She bows up to the arrogance but kneels down to the broken. She fills me with great joy and makes me proud that I’m her father.
Matthew 6:25 starts off by saying, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life…” Girls, though, are told to worry about many things. These usually have to do with going somewhere or doing something alone. We’re taught to protect ourselves and take too many cautions. Luckily, I grew up with a father who insisted that us girls were just as tough as any boy.
Now that I’m a senior in high school, though, I’m realizing all of the dangers no one warned me about. There is the fear of rejection from different colleges. There is the fear of student loans. There is the fear of finding somewhere to live if I go to a community college, and along with that, there is the fear of being able to pay for my own place. Basically, there is the fear of the unwritten future. What about all the current anxiety that comes with school that no one warned me about either?
As students, we are pressured by numbers—our ACT scores and GPAs. Without a good GPA or ACT score, we’re wired to believe we won’t go anywhere. This causes such an anxiety for the future that most people give up and can even develop mental problems. Some, though, propel themselves forward and are simply absorbed in an oblivion of work.
Most teachers do not remember that we have eight classes total. That means that if every teacher is saying his or her homework should only take an hour, that’s eight hours of homework after an eight-hour school day. What if you also have a job to pay for gas or even materials to help with school? And don’t forget to calculate in all of the “High School Experiences One Must Have.”
All of these factors lead many students my age to have a nocturnal sleep schedule. Without much sleep, the brain won’t function correctly leading to even more impulsive decisions than we would normally make—even shooting up the school. School shootings are very common, and it’s just another thing to add to our list of reasons we’re stressed out and anxious. Add in being a female, and you’ve got many other components—some that are caused naturally and some that are social additives—to make our lives more difficult.
As females, we’re supposed to have flat stomachs, acne-free faces, a perfectly made face, and a good attitude at all times. Luckily, society has started to make some of these rules a little more lenient but not much. Scientifically speaking, woman have 40% more hormones than men. We are also natural caretakers, making us feel the need to take care of everyone around us.
Anyone can dismiss these things as temporary, but as our brains are still developing, we don’t see too far into the future to see the light at the end of the tunnel. We get trapped in a state of mind that makes us think every situation is permanent. How do we get through it, then?
There is one specific quote by Joseph Campbell that, since it was said to me, I will never forget: “All of the gods, all the heavens, all the hells, are within you.” It reminds me that all of the worst battles and all of the best feelings are within yourself. On top of that, you are in control of how you decide to handle the situations that are thrown at you. There is a simple comfort in knowing that no matter what, I, ultimately, have the control over myself at the least. I have control over the biggest factor in my life that determines where I go and what I do. When that doesn’t work, I look at all the women in my life that have battled worse than I have and made it through with grace and dignity.
Anyone who says females are weak is terribly mistaken. Even in Proverbs, it says, “She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.” We are constantly fighting for equality and to be seen as more than a face or body. With age, so far, it has only gotten more difficult to prove that I am more than a female, more than a number, more than a bag of makeup, more than what every book and movie has portrayed me to be. I hope that society continues to make improvements in the way women are viewed, as well as change the pressures on students to make the best numbers in grades and test scores.
Bethany Hall is a senior at Madison Central High School. She is an aspiring writer with a great future. She loves Jesus.