You’re a little girl, only six years old. It’s your first day at school. Excitement fills your body, you feel pumped up, but at the same time a bit nervous. Will you find friends? Will the teacher be nice to you? Will you manage the homeworks?
You’re a little girl, only six years old. It’s your first day at school and you’re still unaware of the fact that school will destroy you one day.
Almost every third woman between the ages of 16-24 suffers from anxiety, uneasieness or worrying (SCB, rapporten “Ohälsa och Sjukvård 1980-2005”). More than every fifth woman between the ages of 16-29 has or has had thoughts of committing suicide (Statens folkhälsoinstitut, 2012). Eighth per cent of the women in the study has tried to commit suicide. More women, 46 %, than men, 37 %, continues their studies after high school (Scb, utbildningsregistret) but still men earns more money. 28 % of the men has a high income, while the same study shows that only 12 % of the women has an income over average.
Well. This doesn’t have to prove anything, right? It’s only statistics. Why does this prove that the so called good girl-syndrome is more common among girls? The thing is that this doesn’t prove anything- this strengthens so many personal stories that have been told and to be told by many, many girls and women all over the world.
We live in a society where girls feel a pressure to study hard to even get a chance to get the same opportunities as a man, and even though they study so much there almost isn’t room for anything else, it’s still not good enough. Performance anxiety has been shown to the possibilities of panic attacks, anorexia, self-harm, stress and depression.
I have personally experienced this. I have cried over tests, thinking that I won’t be able to do anything with my life. I’ve been choosing to do my math homework instead of hanging out with friends. I’ve been sitting in a dark room, so filled up with anxiety that I never wanted to go out again. I’ve been trying to hurt myself in every possible way. I’ve tried way too many different diets. I’ve been having such extreme anxiety attacks that I’ve wanted to end my life.
Sadly, these feelings are very common. There are way too many girls living with performance anxiety. Of course, there are not only girls who suffer from the good girl-syndrome. It occurs to boys as well, but the thing is that there are more girls than boys who do- it is the norm. That’s why I, and many more, like to refer to it as the good girl- syndrome. Anyhow, no matter if it occurs to more girls than boys, the question is; how do we end this? How can we end these feelings to keep coming all the time, to be there inside of us, scratching on the inside?
The way I see it, it can be fixed on two different levels – individual and general. General, we need to do something with our society. We have to stop the fact that men earn more money than women just because they were born with a penis. We have to stop the fact that even though women generally are more well-educated they often make less money. We have to stop the fact that girls are expected to be quiet in the classroom and take care of the screaming, annoying boys. These are only a few examples that lead to the statistics shown above. Sadly, it takes time to correct these issues.
That’s why we have to start individually. If you feel stressed out about school- go have a coffee with your friends. If you feel sad because of a test- eat a piece of chocolate to celebrate the next time you did good. If you feel that neither of this will work; go and speak with someone. A mom, a friend, a teacher, a therapist. I did. And it has actually begun to work.
So my advice to all of you out there, all of you who has always done what you’ve been told to do, who has always done your homework, who has prioritized a test before friends- let loose. Go crazy. Life is way too short to cry over an essay about socio-linguistics, but it sure does have plenty of time to laugh, dance for a whole night, sing in the rain, kiss pretty people at parties, eat cinnamon buns and fall in love. Stop being a good girl/boy- go “bad” and fail a test once in a while- your life won’t be ruined, I promise you.