By Eric Lopez
Whether it is the essay you are struggling to write, the AP Biology test you are trying to study for, or the presentation you have to give, school is undoubtedly stressful. School is like the cherry on top of every other stressful situation we have during our adolescent lives. So, could it be that society is asking too much of Gen Z? Novelly author Maya Henry recognizes this issue and notices how gender also plays a role in how students perform at school. Her novella, De-Cocooned, published in the Novelly library, follows a golden boy of his mother and an older sister who faces similar adversities but receives different support.
Academic pressure is the intense demand of time and energy expected from students, which can leave scholars unsure of their ability to perform well in school or even burnout from the work. Maya is no stranger to burnout; she admittedly felt numb for worrying more about school than personal relationships and interests. She had to set boundaries between when she was in work mode and when she was off. In this way, she could balance the tasks that were at hand as a student and the leisure that is essential for her well-being. But in classroom environments, Maya has noticed a distinction of confidence in genders when performing academically because of the toxic gender roles society imposes on us. Gender roles place men as superior and deem women to be subordinates. There is a significant pressure for women to not be vulnerable or incorrect because if they are, it can perpetuate these gender norms.
But as Maya Henry puts it, “never shut up for a man.” Raise your hand in class and own your answer, do not worry about being right. In fact, it is okay to be wrong; classrooms are learning environments.
As a student, living in the truth of things and knowing that assignments will inevitably be assigned made me think, “How can I make this work?” That has allowed me to reflect on my behavior, what I can control, and what I cannot. It is okay to feel upset or any other feeling the situation brings. However, ruminating over the situation excessively can be diminishing. Extending grace towards yourself and providing yourself with time is key to accepting the undesirable situation we are in so that we can progress from there. We all have struggles but I’m not alone, you’re not alone, none of us are, and De-Cocooned is a great example of that.
Hear more from the one and only Maya Henry on Episode 4 of the Read to Heal Podcast now available on Youtube.
Eric Lopez is a high school student attending Camino Nuevo Dalzell Lance and a high school content creation intern at Novelly for Summer 2022.