There’s No Money For Food, I Got Homework, And Mom Is Sick: Stories Of Teen Anxiety

[box_light]Facebook, school dances, and the latest fashion trend—you’d think that teenagers these days would spend most of their time obsessing over these things. But frankly, that’s not the case for many of these young people who reveal that there are far more heavier things on their mind.[/box_light]
In The Gutters
For about the past month I have had to deal with not having anything at home and my social life is in the gutters. At home my mom has to do everything, like pay bills, put food on the table, clothes on our backs, support three growing teens, and help out other family members.

It hurts me because my mom has to do it on her own and some of my selfish siblings don’t make it any better. Seeing my mom struggle is hard. Sometimes I go without things so my mom can have extra money. Sometimes I go without eating, clothes, shoes, almost anything you can name. My family isn’t as fortunate as others – there are no designer clothes, fancy cars, phones, and money to just blow off because “it comes and goes”.

My social life is in the gutters because I’ve been in loner status. I’ve been feeling unwanted like I just don’t belong. I try and tell myself that things will come around but I don’t think it’s gonna get any better.
-Jana, 16


What The Heck Am I Going To Do?
Man two weeks have gone by and already three people have moved into my family’s one-bedroom apartment. They don’t cook or clean. Can they at least pick up after themselves?

For a few weeks I wasn’t in school because no school would accept me. I must have really messed up my grades for that to happen, but luckily, I recently got accepted into a charter school program. It’s a relief because a while back my mom got a letter saying that if I’m not in school soon they’re going to cut off the benefits my mom gets and right now, that is our only income, which is about $300 a month. Isn’t that a B? Ugh. She yells at me for not going to school and for messing up but I tell her all the time that I’m sorry and I’m trying to fix it. But I guess that’s not enough.

I hardly talk to my best friend and our relationship is on eggshells. So the only person to talk to is my boyfriend, but he slowly stopped texting and calling. He lives in another city and I haven’t seen him in a month and I miss him a lot. On top of that my sisters and mom keep telling me that he’s cheating on me and why can’t I see what he’s doing, or how can I be so naïve, gullible, or a sucker!

What a rough two weeks, right? It’s tough with all those people who have been moving into our apartment. My mom is behind on the rent and two more people are supposed to be moving in. What the heck am I going to do?
-Anonymous, 17


Stressed, But Blessed
I’m jobless, carless, and my family has to move out of our apartment in a few months. Our managers stopped paying for everything and basically abandoned us, the tenants. The school district bought the property we live on, so as soon as we (my family and neighbors) move out, the place I used to call home will get demolished and a new elementary school will be built there.

I’m frustrated that I have to move because I am busy and I have no time to move. Also, if we move out, I know rent will be more expensive so there will be more pressure on me to get a job. As a college student who’s planning to major in nursing, I want to focus as much as I can on school.

Since college has started I’ve only gotten four out of the six books I need. Luckily, my friend’s boyfriend helped me out with a book he had. This probably helped me save $30 or more. I’m also waiting for my financial aid money so I can pay my aunt for helping me buy my parking permit. I might be stressed, but I’m blessed to have people help me out here and there.
-Gabby, 18


Get On Track
It’s senior year. It’s supposed to be full of excitement, laying back and have a great time before the big event in our lives, college. My senior year is going to be great, but managing my time between homework and outside occupations is difficult to follow through on.

I especially don’t like to fall behind in my work, but that’s just beginning to start and it’s all pressing onto my shoulders. There are things I deal with easily but with so much workflow, it’s hard to set priorities. Overall, I’m doing fine, I just need to start decreasing the work load and get on track.
-William, 17


The Weeks Go By
The stress I have been going through is like a nightmare. They keep on getting worse. The first week of school was bad. My classes were messed up and I had Spanish I instead of Spanish II. I finally got it changed. The second week was like a bomb. Monday wasn’t so bad, then bam, Tuesday, I got news from my parents about my cousin who lives far away who my parents are trying to set me up with in an arranged marriage. I was the one they wanted. My heart sunk. My parents don’t know when they’re coming to “talk it out” but I know my answer will be “no” because I love my boyfriend, and I don’t wanna marry because I got plans for my future.

Then, the next day, Wednesday, things got really bad. I found out some “stuffs” and had a relationship problem. My classes were hard and I have tons of homework every night. I can’t stand it. Then, the third week, this week, I found out that my family and I are officially moving. We’re not sure when. So many problems that my head feels like it will explode. My escape is The Know and music/reading.
-Anonymous, 15


Too Little Time
My life feels cursed by the hand of God.
Day in, day out, thinking about
what I would lose but won’t show it.

Mom goes to dialysis every other day. Four hours.
She comes back home. I walk past and close the door.
Dad says why am I so selfish – won’t even grab the bag of
My mother’s comforts during the operation.
Don’t I know what she’s going through?
Face, red, tears, rainfall – I walk away with a knife in my
Chest, hoping I would die, again and again.

It’s dusk, the sun falling, the moon, white. Dad says
His stomach hurts. The scar on his right belly, five inches.
I don’t know how many stitches. It stares me in the
Face while my father covers my bloody arm. I just fell
Off my bike and shaved off six inches of my skin
Head almost cracked open. Karma.

School’s getting weary. Three APs, four hours of homework.
I sit from eight ‘til one scribbling nonsense on the
Blue-lined paper. Life sucks don’t it? Work Mondays,
Wednesdays. Football Mondays, Fridays. Meetings Fridays
Saturdays. Too much to say, too little time.
-Yee Leng, 17


A Day In My Life
These past few weeks since school started, it’s been fun, overwhelming, and stressful all in one breath. Everyday, I have to wake up in the early morning. I feel like it’s so early because when I open my eyes, darkness still seeps through my windows. Usually, I’d be so tired I wouldn’t even want to wake up.

I don’t know why, but I take so long doing homework. I feel like homework is taking up all my time. At school, I take two AP classes, two honors classes, and a three-hour medical class at a different high school. Each class gives out homework pretty much on a daily basis, and they’re usually due the next day. I guess school’s not so bad when I get to laugh with my friends. I usually forget about all my problems when I talk and joke with them.

Once I get home, I immediately start doing homework until about 10:30 PM, sometimes midnight. Since I have my last class at the other high school, I get out at 3:20 PM, but then the bus to take me near my house comes at around 4:05-4:15 PM. I hate how I have to wait and sometimes I feel like it’s wasting my time.

My sister has leukemia, and she has just been admitted to the hospital last Friday and isn’t home yet. It’s stressful because my parents have to always worry about who’s going to pick me or my sisters up from school. I don’t want them to worry, and I think it might be worse when my mom and sister go stay at a hospital in Palo Alto for a hundred days. I hope things get better.
-Denise, 15


Crumbling Around Me
Getting back into school, continuing my schooling, and my financial situation or lack thereof have all been stressing me out. At home I’m repeatedly getting kicked out of the place where I rest my head. My mom, who I believe is lying to me and I’m not sure what the heck to think, is telling me she’s broke, can’t purchase food, pay rent and the utilities but it seems no matter what I do my situation blows up in my face. The thing that is troubling me is the fact that she went gambling the other night.

I try to focus on myself but this never seems to work out. Everything is slowly crumbling around me. My mom keeps calling me for either support or assistance, and suffers from an ailment that affects her lungs, yet she still smokes. I have reason to believe she’s back on drugs.
-Marcus, 20


I hate checking my email. I get emails about college constantly. I’m not looking forward to school now. I hate looking at my college portal and the financial aspect of it all.

I feel like I need to pull money out of my behind or something in the next couple of weeks because I’m not going to have money for college. I’m not going to have money for books.

I feel really broke. Every time I think about how much college costs, I feel discouraged. Why is it that all the good things in life are the most expensive? I really understand now, why less people go to college these days.

I know it will all be worth it one day, but today it’s a huge stress that I can’t seem to get over.
-Arena, 18

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The kNOw works to support and equip young people with the journalism and advocacy skills they need to tell their stories and the stories of their communities.

In 2006, over 25 youth began participating in weekly after-school writing workshops where they congregated in the hallway of a two-story building in West Fresno and learned the essentials of creating media and telling their stories. The group evolved over the next five years and is now proudly recognized as The kNOw Youth Media.

Through our program, we create opportunities for our youth participants, who in turn create long-term positive change in their communities. Our approach weaves youth development and youth media innovation to produce our biannual youth publication, multimedia projects, and community forums.

The kNOw began as a project of New America Media, which was the country’s first and largest national collaboration and advocate of 2000 ethnic news organizations. In 2018 The kNOw became a project of Youth Leadership Institute.

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