Normal to be nervous. Try to do what makes you happy.
PROFILE | By Jamie Ross
Fourteen year-old Darci Ross is in eighth grade, living through the struggles of junior high. What better way to get insight on what it’s like to be a young girl than to talk to one?
Darci was born in Dartmouth. She started kindergarten in Toronto at the age of four, moved back to Dartmouth in time to start grade one, and now is in grade eight at Caledonia Junior High.
Darci's main causes of stress are school, parents, drama with friends and worrying about what others think of her. Simple answers, comfortable mood; but, getting more in depth, the mood shifts and the answers become not so simple.
Everyone has their own ways to relieve or cope with stress. Darci’s primary stress reliever is dance. She is a talented, competitive ballroom and Latin dancer. “Whenever I have a good day or a good competition with dance," says Darci, "it makes me feel better about things stressing me out.” She also says that simple activities, such as watching TV, painting her nails, and spending time with friends, helps to distract her from whatever is on her mind.
Darci is also an avid user of many social media outlets. She uses Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, tumblr, and Facebook multiple times throughout the day. Does social media cause Darci to worry about what others think of her? With a pause and a sigh, her answer is yes. “I worry about how many followers I have, or how many likes and favourites I get. I almost feel like I’m competing with my friends to see who has the most [likes/followers]. It’s like, the amount of likes or followers you have defines how cool and popular you are.”
Of course, social media is not the only reason kids are stressed or worry about what others think of them. “I worry about what others will think of me while I’m getting ready for school. If I change how I do my hair, do my make-up differently, or wear something new to school, I worry if other people will like it.” It’s unreal how hard kids try to impress their peers, and the question 'why?' is a tricky one to answer. After several minutes of thinking and with a glance at her twiddling thumbs, Darci's response was, simply: “Fitting in. I don’t want them judging me or thinking I’m weird."
Does Darci struggle with self-esteem issues then? I think we can all guess her answer. “Yeah [I do]. I think most people do. I compare myself to my friends and the girls I see on TV.”
Clearly the media affects young teens. But do they know the reality? Do they know the extent of the editing and Photoshop? Do they believe that what they see is real? With a shake of her head and a confident “No,” Darci states: “I know that those girls are photoshopped and it’s not realistic to look like that, but it’s still hard when it’s being thrown in your face 24/7."
Darci wants to tell younger girls entering junior high to try and remember that everyone at the school was once in the same position — scared, anxious and not knowing what to expect. It’s normal to be nervous. But no matter how worried you are about others judging you, people don’t often notice your insecurities — and you should do what makes you happy.
Wouldn’t it be nice if it were easy to take your own advice?