SOMEONE FINALLY SAID IT
So if a teenager is at school for roughly 8 hours, and they are doing homework for 6+ hours, and they need AT LEAST 9 HOURS OF SLEEP FOR THEIR DEVELOPING BRAINS, then they may have 0-1 hours for other activities like eating, bathing, exercise, socializing (which is actually incredibly important for emotional, mental, and physical health, as well as the development of skills vital to their future career and having healthy romantic relationships among other things), religious activities, hobbies, extra curriculars, medical care of any kind, chores (also a skill/habit development thing and required by many parents), relaxation, and family time? Not to mention that your parents may or may not pressure you to get a job, or you might need to get one for economic reasons.
^ THIS. I feel so strongly about this. It hurt to watch this episode, especially Alex’s breakdown, because this was my high school experience to a T. Fuck, I was Alex. I basically didn’t sleep my junior and senior years of high school. I didn’t go to some rigorous prep school or anything; I attended a good (albeit competitive) public school and took advanced-track classes most of the time. After extracurriculars, my job, and finally homework, I sometimes didn’t get to bed until 2 or 3 am, or later. I had to get up for school at 5:30/6. I pulled far more all-nighters in high school than I did in college. I remember so many days where my entire body hurt because the lactic acid built up in my limbs from not sleeping enough the night before. It had such negative effects on my health; I was sick a lot, and my doctor even sent me to see a cardiologist at one point because I was so stressed out it was fucking up my blood pressure. The doctors were condescending and kept trying to pin it on my parents, asking me faux-conspiratorially if they were putting too much pressure on me. The doctors didn’t understand that it wasn’t my loving, bewildered, totally un-pressuring parents. It was just what it meant to be a seventeen-year-old in today’s educational climate.
I want to shove this in the face of every adult who didn’t get it, couldn’t fathom why I got so little sleep “for no reason”, thought I was exaggerating my workload, or thought I was merely making myself miserable in my “choice” to be an “overachiever” (instead of realizing that “overachieving” is often the default now). I’m naturally an academically-driven person and probably didn’t have to work quite as hard as I did to get by or even do well, sure, but I also needed to get stellar grades so I could earn scholarships to help pay for college since it now costs a ridiculous fucking shitload of money (which those same adults are responsible for after driving up inflation in the education system to a truly insane level, among their other countless fuckups). I was thankfully able to earn enough scholarship money that the cost of my crazily-expensive-but-amazing college’s tuition was mostly covered, so it was worth it (except for the fact that I spent the better part of my teenage years utterly worn down, miserable, and nearly gave myself heart problems, but you know, whatever. Kids these days!).
Teenagers deserve more respect, because it’s fucking hard to be one as it is without having all of this heaped upon them too.