I believe in the importance of understanding. Understanding that not everyone
has the same capabilities and intentions. Understanding that parents’ dreams are
not their children’s. Understanding that reckless pressure is harmful.
I come from an era of expectations. Not so coincidentally, I come from an era of
depression. Three of my closest friends, including my older brother, developed severe
depression during their tenure at college. All three struggle to pass simple classes and
often withdrawal from semesters. They are not in college for the right reasons.
I remember when I was younger, my father would make clear his dream that all of
his children would graduate from Penn State. We had no other choice. My father didn’t
understand that college wasn’t for everybody. My brothers and I were expected to not
only attend, but graduate from Penn State! Talk about carrying a load on your shoulders!
My brother is in his seventh year (that’s 14 semesters) and will not graduate this year. In
his mind, he has already let my father down. He cannot live up to the high expectations.
Someday he may graduate with a degree in which he has little interest in and a case of
depression. That’s what he’ll get out of college.
This correlation between heightened expectations and depression is anything but
an isolated incident. So much of the youth today in America is expected to do bigger and
better things that the generation before them. When they don’t, they crash. Parents need
to understand their children’s hopes and desires and never set them up to fail.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.