Managing teen anxiety around high school graduation – what an emotional rollercoaster! I remember the hallways were buzzing with nervous excitement, each day more than the last…
I was looking forward to my high school career coming to an end but this was often overshadowed by anxiety surrounding the unknown. Many of my friends seemed so sure of what they were doing, with some of them planning on moving across the country for school. Although I was excited to gain more independence, I also felt a ton of pressure. Every thought seemed to end with a question mark.
This uncertainty and sense of being out of control caused some pretty overwhelming anxiety. Just as uncertainty can lead to anxiety, anxiety can lead to avoidance, and I was a pro at it! I avoided looking up admission requirements and application deadlines because I was worried I wouldn’t have the grades to get it. Unfortunately, this only caused more anxiety over the thought of missing the deadline and panic when realizing I was giving myself less time to get things sorted and submitted.
If you’re a teen (or a parent of a teen) and your high school graduation is coming up, I have created some tips I found useful during my own graduation. These are tips I share with teens in therapy with me as well.
Teen Graduation Anxiety Tip #1 – Embrace Exploration
Career quizzes are not only fun but informative. They can be a great way for you to hone in on your interests and reveal careers related to them. You could even do them with your friends or family for fun!
There are a lot of quizzes out there, but if you’d like to take one right NOW here is one to get you started: Your Free Career Test
Teen Graduation Anxiety Tip #2 – Examine Your Values
Values reveal what’s important to you, and can provide direction in your life. Understanding and getting to know your values can be another way to help with decision making; Living in alignment with your values helps you to live a more fulfilling life. If you’re not sure where to start, Values Discussion Cards by Therapist Aid is a hands-on exercise you can try!
Teen Graduation Anxiety Tip #3 – Steer Clear of Avoidance
While it can be scary to look into admission requirements and submission deadlines, knowing the answers can relieve anxiety and prevent it from snowballing. I found a really great article for you that outlines 30 great questions you can ask to really get to know the schools you are looking into. You can read the article by Foothills College in California HERE.
Teen Graduation Anxiety Tip #4 – Practice Self-Compassion:
For many teens (and even young adults like myself), thoughts may lead towards the negative, while what you’re saying/doing on the outside is more like an Instagram or TikTok reel – bright, shiny, and ‘perfect’.
I wanted to remind you of this because, even though it might not be discussed out loud, many of your peers are also feeling nervousness surrounding the uncertainty of graduation. They just aren’t saying it.
Sometimes, having a third party person to discuss your thoughts with, and provide known tools for anxiety, can be a really helpful addition to your graduation plans. I am available for 1:1 appointments all across Alberta (online) or in-person in Calgary, Alberta. Your parents will need to be involved in the process – they can book a free consultation with me HERE.
Hi there! My name is Ally and I am a MA student therapist working with teens, parents, and young adults in Calgary, Alberta. I am passionate about helping others and one of the greatest honours of my life is being able to listen and hold space for other people’s stories.
When I am not working, I enjoy listening to music, spending time with family and friends, hiking, and indoor cycling. I love exploring new places with some of my favourites being Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Spain, Iceland, as well as Vancouver Island.
Calgary is home, but I will take any opportunity to travel!