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The Pressure of Choices

Do you ever feel like your world is closing in on you, that you sometimes can barely breathe? Looking around, there is no physical pressure on you or your body, but it doesn’t change that feeling. A lot of people feel this way when they experience extreme emotional pressure. You cannot see the pressure, but you feel it, around the clock. The pressure can actually prevent you from being able to function. You may feel like this at a time when in your life there are so many choices to make about your future.

College or University

There is so much pressure upon adolescents these days to choose a school to attend after high school. Not just a school, but one that is prestigious and will help further your career. What if you are not even sure you want to go to college? What if you have no idea what you want to do for your career? What if you cannot afford a secondary education? There are so many questions to answer before you choose where you want to go. That only adds to the pressure.
There are often expectations placed upon you by family, culture, teachers, or other well-meaning people in your life. Choosing a four-year college or university seems to be a common expectation, and many of the people placing those expectations are pressuring you based on the same thing being expected of them at your age. For example, you may have had a parent attend a certain school, and the expectation is that you also attend that same school, even if they don’t offer the program you need. Or the inspirational teacher with the pennants and sweatshirts of their alma mater, always telling you all about the scholarships and other opportunities of their former school.

Managing Pressure About Schooling

This kind of pressure is especially harmful because they are making assumptions about your life and your choices when you haven’t even made preliminary decisions regarding that choice. You may be in a situation with pressure that is very real, such as the guarantee of funding for college or even being allowed to stay at home. This is very unfortunate, but it does happen. It is very important that you are assertive and truly find out if this is a specific expectation or perhaps just something you perceive because sometimes your fears can influence your perceptions. Most families will allow you to have some control over your choices.
Once you know how much agency you actually have in your decision, you can advocate for yourself with family and well-meaning people and ask for their help or at least patience while you weigh out the pros and cons of going to school or not, what kind of tuition you and your family will be able to afford, and the type of program you are interested in attending. When you advocate for yourself and break down the big decisions into smaller decisions, then you can relieve a lot of the pressure surrounding your choice of whether or not to attend college or university.


The pressure around choosing a career is one step further, and yet also an ideal choice to make before you choose a college and spend tens of thousands of dollars per year on your education. The pressure can seem massive because it is a decision that can impact you for the rest of your life. How many people actually like their jobs? Surveys vary, but on average, nearly half of working people are not satisfied with their jobs. How many of those people knew as an adolescent what they wanted to do? That can seem like a lot of pressure.
However, just like the decision about post-secondary schooling, you can break this decision down into a lot of smaller decisions. You can also ask for help from family, friends, and school counselors. Some of the questions you can ask yourself to help you break down your decision are:

• What kinds of things make me happy?

• What types of work do I enjoy doing?

• What am I good at doing?

• What fields am I curious about?

• What are the types of careers I can picture myself doing long-term?

• What is a job that would pay enough to support me and/or my family?

• What types of careers will be in demand in 20 years? 40 years?
In addition to exploring these and other questions for yourself, career counselors at your school have a lot of surveys that you can take to determine your interests. These are also available online. If you can even narrow it down to two or three general fields, then you can start doing research about those fields and the types of jobs available. You can take field trips or go to interview people about specific jobs, and get a better idea of what kind of career you want, and what kind of schooling you will need for that career.
If you are one of those people who feels suffocated by the pressures of making choices about your future, you are not alone. You can also get help to deal with the pressure, and to learn to take seemingly huge choices and make them into more manageable little choices. Instead of feeling like the world is closing in around you, you can push back, break down the walls created by pressure, and open the whole world to you.

You can get help dealing with the pressures of choices. Call Embark Behavioral Health 1-855-809-0409 today. We can help you break down your choices and relieve the pressure.

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Embark Behavioral Health

Embark Behavioral Health is a leading network of outpatient centers and residential programs offering premier mental health treatment for preteens, teens, and young adults. Dedicated to its big mission of reversing the trends of teen and young adult anxiety, depression, and suicide by 2028, Embark offers a robust continuum of care with different levels of service and programming; has a deep legacy of over 25 years serving youths; works with families to adjust treatment in real time to improve results; treats the entire family using an evidence-supported approach; and offers the highest levels of quality care and safety standards. For more information about Embark or its treatment programs, including virtual services, intensive outpatient programs (IOPs), therapeutic day treatment programs, also known as partial hospitalization programs (PHPs), residential treatment, and outdoor therapy, visit embarkbh.com.