I am a 15-year-old girl. Recently, things have been bad for me. I took my PMR last year and everyone, from my parents to my teachers, had very high expectations for me to do very well. They seem to think that I’m really smart even though I don’t think I am. I get depressed thinking about it.

My parents also frequently fight with each other. I used to be the one who would “settle” their fights but now … I just can’t do it anymore. I feel like hurting myself whenever they fight. I’ve cut myself a few times though I know I shouldn’t have.

Things are better now but I don’t know how long it will stay that way for. Don’t get me wrong, my parents are good people. They always help the less fortunate, and they have taken care of me really well.

I have a good friend whom I’ve known for a long time. However, there would be times when she would call be “fat” and “ugly”. I don’t know why she does it but with everything going on in my life I don’t need any of that! I have always helped her in anyway I can. Whenever someone says something rude to her or when she feels down, I was always there for her.

It breaks my heart that she would do and say all those mean things to me.
When I was nine years old, I was a little overweight. My relatives teased me about it, which then led me to going on a strict diet. I wouldn’t eat anything!
I lost a lot of weight through dieting, but since that incident I have never been satisfied with my physical appearance. I have never been at peace with myself over my body.

Even now, I still worry whenever I have to meet some of my relatives. I am scared of what they will say about me, about my weight.
I am thankful that I have parents who love and provide for me. They always say that I am “skin and bones” because they know how I feel about my body. They have been the greatest parents to me. Most of their fights are because of my relatives. I have been really depressed lately, I think I need help. I need someone to talk to. — Need Help

Say what you feel

Living up to expectations is a difficult thing to do. It can be motivation for one to do better, but when uncontrolled it’s a burden and can quickly become destructive.

All parents want their children to be the best, the hard part is to not let it get to you. It’s the toughest thing to manage their expectations, but tell them firmly that it’s becoming too much. It’s making you lose focus and making studies more difficult.

You have a right to say how you feel about it, and it would help them to hear your point of view. In fact, maybe your parents mistakenly think you’re alright with it all, when the truth is that the pressure they put on you is hurting them.

Don’t put yourself down by saying you don’t get straight As. The truth is, grades aren’t the whole picture in the real world. What’s important is character – like how you handle difficult situations and get back up when you’re down. Your interests are vital as well. Don’t forget about things outside the classroom like sports or hobbies. There’s a lot to develop in this area such as friendships, leadership, and passion.

What happens in your family will affect you, but separate yourself from your parents’ fighting. It’s hurting you, and you don’t deserve that. What happens in the privacy of their relationship is between them. Let them handle it on their own time and space. The solution will arise through their process.

It’s not your responsibility to settle it. Don’t cut yourself. It’s harmful to you and it doesn’t solve anything.

It’s unfortunate that some people you care about don’t reciprocate. The friend that makes fun of you is toxic – so let her go. Distance yourself from people who bring you down, and be close to the ones who comfort you.

Body image is difficult for many people to manage. Know that beauty comes in all sizes. Be proud of how you look. Don’t compare your shape and size with others, because everyone’s different. You can’t control what people say.
What you can control is how you react to them. It’s a chance to build up your inner strength and patience.

Ignore the hurtful comments, and be proud of the girl all these people don’t see. Focus on the wonderful, caring girl you are, and you’ll get through it. — Rusyan

Focus on yourself

Girl, that is a whole host of problems! You are dealing with many difficult issues, and I’m glad that you are reaching out for help. Know that each of your problems can be dealt with individually, but there is an underlying theme of weakness that you need to face head-on for your own well-being and happiness.

The first thing you need to do is disown that “friend” who calls you names, and surround yourself with better friends who will support you. Good friends aren’t always easy to find, but then again, bad friends are easy to lose.

She sounds like she has self-confidence issues of her own and deals with them by putting other people down. That’s quite sad and she definitely needs her own support system, too, but right now you need to focus on you. Make new friends and strengthen bonds with old ones, especially the ones who are good listeners, have good hearts and can make you laugh.

As for the mounting expectations to get good results, all it takes is an honest conversation with your parents and your school that you are finding their pressure very hard to cope with. But the most important person to have that honest conversation with is yourself.

Parents and teachers do put a lot of pressure on students to perform well, but often we internalise that pressure and believe that we are letting other people down if we don’t do well. That’s not very sustainable, and sometimes untrue.

Your parents seem like wonderful people who love you very much but don’t know the hazardous effects of their pressure. You have to help them understand.

Annoying relatives are unfortunately here to stay, but you just have to believe that their opinion on your grades and physique does not matter. It is really as simple as that, albeit difficult to really internalise and believe. And yet, the confidence to reject certain opinions is exactly what you need right now.

Friends who call you names, parents and teachers who expect too much, relatives who bring you down – you don’t need any of this negativity in your life.

Your biggest priority right now should be to gain strength and confidence. And you can only do this by knowing that you are an intelligent, sensitive and wonderful individual who has total control over your own life, including which opinions and people matter most to you. — Su Ann

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