I’m a junior in high school. God has blessed me with great intellect, and so I put in just enough effort at school to pull all A’s. I do not cheat; my grades are well earned.
I spend all of the resulting spare time practicing music (flute, church organ, piano, recorder), being involved with local government (working alongside elected officials), working (teacher/secretary at a music school) reading, hiking, studying the faith, etc. I love the Church and my life revolves around my faith in Christ. My parents know this well. I am considering majoring in theology. I want to devote my studies, and then my life, to Christ. I am not disrespectful, I steer clear of the drugs/sex/alcohol scene, I have a good rapport with all of my teachers, I stand up for what is right (like battling a popular, yet highly abusive and vulgar teacher) and I actively evangelize. I am an altar server and thurifer.
Yet, my parents are never satisfied with me and are ALWAYS disappointed. As soon as I think I have met their approval standard, the standards rise. For example, today I told my mom that I am academically ranked # 24 out of 300 in my high school class. Her response was, “So twenty-three people are doing better than you. You are lazy. You could be number 1, but you don’t try hard enough.”
Don’t get me wrong, I love school as well as all else that I do; I just want what I do to be enough for them, to be satisfactory. I understand that this is how they keep me focused on success, but is it worth it at the expense of my happiness?
I feel like I’m filling a bathtub that grows as I fill it or walking up a flight of stairs that keeps getting longer.
How do I cope with this stress? Are my parents too strict? Am I not applying myself? Should I honor my parents (10 commandments reference) and continue chasing after their elusive approval or ignore them when their prodding goes beyond all sanity?