Ask Faith: Toxic Friendships, College Concerns, and Parental Problems

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Faith Mendelson on Canva.com

“Ask Faith” is a new advice column to help you navigate high school and to answer all of your burning questions! Submit any questions to @ehsvoyager on Instagram!

Q:  Someone who I thought was my best friend is constantly putting me down and making me feel bad about myself. What should I do?

A: Yikes! I’m sorry to break it to you, but that doesn’t sound like a friend. Friends are people who lift you up and make you feel better about yourself; being around friends should be a fun experience. If you find yourself feeling self-conscious around this person, or feeling like you have to be someone you’re not for them to like you, that is a toxic friendship. Toxic friendships can be detrimental to your self-esteem and mental health: someone masquerading as a ‘friend’ and as someone looking out for you, but making you feel badly about yourself can really mess with your head. It is important to get out of that ‘friendship’. You don’t need to make it into a big-blowup fight, but you can gradually start to distance yourself from this person. It is also important that you begin to find new friends who will hopefully be real friends.

 

Q: I’m a senior, about to go into college as an undecided major, and I don’t know what I want to do for the rest of my life. I feel like everyone else knows what they want to do and I’m completely lost and behind.

A:  This is totally normal! In fact, 20-50% of all college students enter as undecided majors. Additionally, 75% of all college students change their major at least once before graduation! Many people at this point in their life feel lost or behind, but the good news is: you are exactly where you are supposed to be! There is no “right” time for anything; life allows each person to go at their own pace. You don’t need to have a set-in-stone plan for your entire life when you enter college: your time in college will allow you to figure out what you might want to do. The classes you’ll take, the people you’ll meet, the opportunities you’ll take: these things will all shape your decision on what you’d like to do.

 

Q: Everyone says that junior year is supposed to be the hardest year of high school, but I’m not finding it that difficult. Am I doing something wrong? Should I be doing more?

A: Hey, props to you! Many students do find junior year to be challenging, but there’s no rule that it has to be! If you don’t find it to be challenging, that’s good news for you! Especially this year: this year, everything has changed and everything deemed as “normal” has kind of been thrown out the window. Maybe online-school/hybrid learning is making school easier on you; maybe these changes have worked in your favor. The important thing is that you aren’t doing anything “wrong”. However, if you aren’t feeling challenged, and that’s something that bothers you, you can always discuss this with your guidance counselor!

 

Q: I’ve been accepted into all of my desired schools and now I’m starting to think about decisions, but how do I know what school is right for me?

A: Great question! Trust me– you are not alone here; this is something every college-applicant struggles with! It can be tricky (especially this year) to pick a school that’s right for you without having attended the school. The way to get the best understanding of the school is to do your research! Say you have three schools that you are considering: really exhaust research on each school website, do a virtual/in-person tour of each school, if you know someone that goes to one of the schools, ask them about it! Also, join the Facebook groups for each school: get to know the people that you’d be going to school with– see if they are the type of people you’d like to surround yourself with. Then, once you get some more information, make a pros/cons list about each school and examine the similarities and differences between the schools. Hopefully organizing all the information will give you some direction as to what you’re really looking for, and where you’d fit in best. 

 

Q: Lately I’ve been feeling really down about myself and I think that it correlates with my social media use. I know social media can be really bad for my mental health, but it’s so addicting. How do I stop using it/use it less?

A: I totally hear you with this one! Our generation has essentially grown up with social media, so it has become second-nature to us. While it can be great in terms of communication, you’re right, too much of it can be detrimental to your mental health and your self-image. It is tempting to scroll through Instagram or TikTok all day, but it can really be harmful to you in the long-run. The constant comparison that comes along with social media can hurt your personal self-image: seeing what others are up to, seeing what others look like, seeing what others have, etc. It might be in your best interest to set a personal limit on your social media usage; in settings, in the screen time sector, you can set time limits for apps. These app limits will close off a certain app after you’ve used it for a set amount of time.

 

Q: My parents don’t like my boyfriend. What do I do?

A: Oh no! I can see how this would put you in a really tricky position! First off, it is important to realize that your parents are not “out to get you”; instead, they likely are just looking out for you. While you might not want to admit it, your parents have lived a lot more life than you, and in some cases have more knowledge than you. My suggestion is that you maturely communicate with your parents about the situation; ask them what it is about your boyfriend that they don’t like. Your parents might see red flags that aren’t so obvious to you. In the long run, your parents just want the best for you and don’t want to see you get hurt. If you can acknowledge that they are coming from a place of love, communicating with them about the situation will be your best bet. 

 

Q: I’ve just turned 18 and I’m now legally an adult, but my parents still treat me like a child. How can I have more freedom and independence?

A: I can see how this would be frustrating! You’re finally 18, you’ve reached adulthood; you can sign contracts, you can get a tattoo or a lottery ticket, you can vote… but you still live under your parents roof. The best way to get your parents to stop treating you like a child is to really act like an adult. If you show your parents that you are acting your age, that you are responsible and independent, they will likely notice and recognize that you are sufficiently mature. It might also be in your best interest to communicate your concerns with your parents: explain to them how you are feeling. They might not realize that they are treating you like a child. However, your parents will always be your parents, whether you’re 8, 18, or 88, and they will always be looking out for you. 

 

Q: As excited as I am for college, I’m nervous to be away from home and my parents for the first time. How can I feel more comfortable with moving out?

A: Feeling nervous and excited at the same time is totally normal when a big part of your life is changing! When you first move out, it might be a little bit uncomfortable, but it’s important to realize that moving away from home for the first time is a huge step in growing up! It is also important to realize that most of your peers will be in the same position and will be feeling the same way. That being said, when you do move out, actively meet new people and make new friends. Eventually, you will find friends 

 

Q: As a senior, I’ve lost all motivation to do school right now. I just don’t see the reason to try right now because I’ve already committed to college. Why should I be focusing on school right now when it doesn’t really matter?

A: Ah, yes: the infamous senioritis! This is totally normal for seniors around this time of year, especially when you’ve already committed to college. It can be tempting to think about the future rather than the present, especially when the ‘present’ is essays and presentations that seem to have no purpose. However, it is still important that you keep your grades up. While it’s occurrence is rare, colleges do reserve the right to rescind an acceptance (revoke admission) if a student’s grades plummet before graduation. It is also good for your mental health to stay engaged in school; slacking off and not caring will make you feel lazy, which will probably make you feel a little guilty for not doing your work. When you look back on this final stretch, your final semester of high-school, you’ll want to remember it fondly, not wishing that you applied yourself more or put in more work than you did. While a college decision can take the weight off of your shoulders and can ease your stress, it doesn’t mean you can just forget about high-school altogether yet.