Not knowing what’s going to happen in the future is scary. It causes you to be put in a position in which you are no longer in control. At Paso Robles High School students are taking AP classes, getting jobs, joining clubs and much more to prepare for their unknown futures. In response to a survey, PRHS students say that their greatest unknown fears include not knowing what comes after death, college, and becoming an adult. 44.9 percent of PRHS students say that their greatest unknown fear is the fear of not having enough money in the future. This reflects about 40 percent of the United State’s population with the same exact fear, according to a study conducted by the Chapman University in 2016.
PRHS Junior Etti Calvo gave her perspective on the unknown.
“Humans have that instinctual thing where it’s like you’ve gotta know what’s happening because if you don’t know then the worst-case scenario could happen.”
The fear of unknown causes many young students to turn to wondering about the afterlife, spirituality, or a lack of these to find a solution to their questions. Calvo responded to these thoughts in an interview conducted in March of 2017. “I don’t fear the fact that death itself is unknown but I guess what comes after. Just a possibility that there could be nothingness or just internal suffering [is scary.]” When it comes to fears of the future, high school students are notorious for pondering these unknown entities.
With the obscure unknown ahead, 25 percent of teenagers are dealing with some type of anxiety disorder nationwide according to research done by the National Institute of Mental Health. Additionally, the University of Illinois at Chicago has found that many anxiety disorders have, “increased sensitivity to uncertain threats or the fear of the unknown.” 38.5 percent of PRHS students say that the fear of the unknown increases their anxiety and an additional 30.8 percent believe that the unknown may elevate their anxiety.
Jennifer Martinez, a psychology teacher at PRHS, provided her observations of fear of the unknown affecting teenagers. “With our society, we have a lot of anxiety and depression and I think those are two effects of the unknown. I think on the surface level the stress is school and work but if you dig deeper into that, the real picture is the unknown. The root of the anxiety and problem is the fear of the unknown.”
Despite the many opportunities students have to over come their fears, 34.6 percent of students at PRHS make a plan to deal with their fears. Martinez’s biggest piece of advice for students dealing with anxiety as a result of the fear of the unknown is,
“Have a bag of tricks. Don’t always dwell on things that go bad or go wrong.”
“Your bag of tricks can consist of talking to an adult or a parent or having a good support system of friends that support you in your challenges and in your successes,” Martinez advised.
A famous horror story writer named H.P. Lovecraft once said “The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.” The fear of the unknown affects students and adults alike, but the future’s mysteries can be solved through preparation and awareness.