I interviewed 3 students to try to find what weekly habits we can do with more of-- and which we can do without. - Somaya Abdullah
I interviewed 3 students to try to find what weekly habits we can do with more of-- and which we can do without.
Person 1 is a 16 year old girl in her sophomore year.
Person 2 is a 17 year old girl in her junior year.
Person 3 is an 18 year old boy in his senior year.
Can you describe your general weekly and weekend schedule, day to day?
Person 1: On Mondays I have a half day and then I go to drive with my mom on the Alameda Naval Base, and then I pick up my sister from school and then I have therapy at 6 and then I go home and do homework and go to sleep. Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday are similar days for me-- I usually just go to school and like, finish school and then do homework, and then I would play like… play Sims a lot. (*laughs*) Yeah, I play Sims a lot. That’s like my guilty pleasure. So then, I usually go to sleep at like 10:00. On Fridays I go to school and then I usually have plans after school. On Saturdays I usually spend the day with my family and go to my dad’s ‘cause I sleep at my dad’s on the weekends. I go to my dad’s and we watch a movie and then we eat dinner, and like, go to sleep, and then I wake up and my sister and mom go to church, but I stay home and do chores, it’s pretty boring. I don’t really do much over the weekend.
Person 2: I go to school every day, I attend all my classes. And then during lunch I meet up with a couple of my friends-- and I hang out with the same people every day usually-- and I go to a place and, as of recently, I haven’t been doing drugs, but in the past that was one of my daily habits. And after lunch I go back to school and go to emphasis. After school I either go home, get some clothes, or acquire some kind of physical item, and then go home, do my homework, eat some dinner, maybe watch some TV. I’m usually listening to music throughout the entire experience. And yeah, I do this like every day. Saturdays I dedicate to washing my hair and like doing it ‘cause I only wash my hair once a week ‘cause I’m a black person. And then I watch TV or something. Sometimes I’ll go walk around the lake or something. Sundays I’ll do all my homework. And that’s pretty much it.
Person 3: Well right now my job is on break, or my internship, but Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays I work from 4:00-7:00, so I don’t get home till about like 7:30 or so, but, like, I gotta eat diner, so I don’t actually start my hw until about 8 or so. Usually Monday ‘cause I get off early, I kinda just lay or do whatever I feel like doing that day. Um, Wednesday is my break day so I just lay around in the house. Yeah! And then, I have work the rest of my days. But right now I’m kinda just handling my stuff. Usually on Fridays I go to work at Youth Radio or something like that-- that’s from, like, after school to, like, 7:00 or so. Sometimes I might wanna hang out with a group of friends, we usually go to House of Curries on Lakeshore and just chill, eat some naan bread or Indian food. People know us pretty well so sometimes they’ll give free stuff to us or whatever, or we’ll hang out or whatever, I don’t know, maybe something will come up. Saturday is usually me wanting to hang out, or get something done, so I’ll call whoever at like 12:00, usually I’m out the house ‘cause I don’t like doing stuff after 12:00. Also I have chores and stuff I have to do in the morning. And then Sunday, I go to work ‘cause my family goes to church or whatever so they like pay me to be a cameraman, so I like record the whole service on like a tape and then my uncle, who runs the whole thing is like, “Here’s 5 whole dollars.” And I get 5 whole dollars. And then, I do my homework on Sunday because I don’t want to even think about homework until the last minute, and then, my weekdays start.
Which people in your life do you spend the most time with?
Person 1: Probably my best friend and probably my dad. I spend a lot of time with my dad. Sometimes my mom but she works a lot or she’s tired. I have like one friend who I really talk to. I’m a really shy person so I can be really awkward. I’m shy but I also really need to be social so it’s kind of conflicting. So like, I have a lot of acquaintances, maybe not so many like, friends that are people who I can just be like, “Hey, let’s have a sleepover,” but I definitely have a lot of people that I just know. My social life I usually just hang out with my family, and when I don’t I go to parties and go out, maybe once a week… or once a month.
Person 2: Since I spend so much time at home I’m with my family a lot, like my mom, my dad, and my sister. But for friends, I spend most of my time with the same group of people- just like the same five people, who I spend most of my time with. Me and my friends hang out around Lake Merritt like all the time, that’s pretty much all that we do. It’s really rare that we leave the city of Oakland and go anywhere else. We shoplift on a pretty normal basis, it’s a pretty casual thing we do, it helps us acquire the things we want, like illegal things without having to be 21, and it also helps us have good fashion. We also do the… um, yeah sometimes. Yeah, that’s life.
Person 3: Well I guess, my family, that’s not really like my choice because I live with them, well I live with my stepdad, my mom, two younger brothers, and now my stepbrother who I share a room with. I have a group of people (about like 5 people that I hang out at school with), but I pretty much hang out with people, there's a lot of people outside of arts school that I hang out with, mainly.
What is your relationship with your family like?
Person 1: I have a really close relationship with my dad. With my mom it’s hard because I live with my mom and my sister so it’s three girls so we all get just like really pissed off at each other all the time, just because we’re like super… I don’t know. If I’m having a lot of trouble with my mom or my sister and just being in my house, then I kind of go to my dad and talk to him about it.
Person 2: I have a really big family. I have six sisters, and I have a mom and a dad. My relationship with my sisters varies, depending on which sister it is. I don’t think I’m particularly close to any of my sisters, but I’m definitely more comfortable around some of them. The ones that are closer to my age I can talk to easier, and I have a good relationship with my parents, we don’t ever get into fights, or really disagreements about anything. I’m closer with my mom just because I’m around her more and maternal figures are like always really important in people’s lives. I guess just being a teenager I don’t really talk to my dad that much and I don’t spend a lot of time with him but we still have a pretty good relationship and we can talk about some things sometimes.
Person 3: It’s pretty interesting, ‘cause my dad lives in LA so, and then he has his own family, so I have two younger brothers with him, and then my stepmom and then like his whole family down there. So I call periodically to check up on him or if its like their birthday or whatever. We don’t necessarily talk everyday, but like we check up. Me and my dad are pretty tight because we’re like the same person. We share lots of music and movies and stuff, so like a lot of my movie and music taste comes from him. My mom is very different from my dad. She’s pretty conservative, isn’t really into art that much, but she’s got her stuff together, so she’s pretty cool. And um, my family here is pretty cool. I’m really tight with my step-brother, and my younger brothers so... I got a pretty big family. I have like five brothers, and I got a sixth one coming, and I don’t know, we’re pretty close-knit, I guess.
On average, how many hours of sleep do you get on weekdays and weekends?
Person 1: On weekdays I probably get 9 hours of sleep. On weekends I probably get like ten or eleven hours of sleep. Probably ten.
Person 2: On weekends I sleep in a lot more so I probably get like eleven hours of sleep or more, and on weekdays I’ve been going to bed earlier, at like 10:00 or 9:00, so I get like nine to ten hours of sleep.
Person 3: Well on the weekends, Saturday’s my sleep-in day, so I’ll d*mn near sleep in to 12 if I want to. Weekdays I don’t get too much sleep cause I don’t even start doing homework till like 8 so I can be up pretty late, and even then, I gotta wake up at like 6 or something. Sometimes I’ve even gotten maybe 3 hours, 4 hours, I don’t know. It’s not good, procrastination is not good for you. Sometimes I wanna work on some extra projects, but I’m like “it’s too much”. Saturdays I’m just kind of up all night, willingly, it’s a different kind of all-nighter. I don’t sleep much, in general.
What is your diet like? What kinds of things do you eat throughout a day or week?
Person 1: Right now, for Lent, I’m not eating sugar, which is really hard. During the week, I eat pretty healthy. I really like eating fruits and vegetables, and we have a lot of chicken and vegetables. Yeah. I drink a lot of water. I don’t really drink juice.
Person 2: I really like beef, so I eat a lot of beef. And I eat flatbread, I eat a lot of naan, a lot of pita bread, and lentils. I kind of eat the same thing like every day. Tangerines, occasionally I’ll have like a cookie or something. Oh, and eggs, I eat a lot of eggs.
Person 3: I’m so unhealthy. Honestly, I’m probably the most unhealthy person . I’ll just eat like a bunch of hot chips and then when I get home.. like I consistently eat Pop Tarts every morning, like the sugary strawberry kind with sprinkles, 'cause that’s the best kind. The Sunny D, that’s like a consistent thing, so I'm already starting off my day with hecka sugar. Lunch, I try to pack a lunch to save money,but sometimes I gotta cash out on some unhealthy stuff, some fried fast food. And then for dinner, my mom usually makes some stuff. She’s a pretty healthy person but you know we all like the tasty-tasty type stuff that’s not that good for you: lots of meat, grease and stuff, but I dont know, I'm a pretty skinny guy, I tried to gain weight one time and it didn’t work. So yeah, that's what my diet’s looking like.
How much time do you spend on screens, what device/s do you use, and what do you spend a majority of time doing on them?
Person 1: Well when I’m on my phone, it’s usually because I’m bored. I never am on my phone when I’m in a social situation unless everyone is talking in their own little group and I’m kind of an outcast. Other than that, I’ll text my friend but I won’t really stay on my phone. I’ll go onto my laptop and be on my laptop for a while. I will get sucked into Youtube or something and watching videos about, like, weird things. That’s basically it. Youtube and Netflix. I love Netflix, but during the school year I don’t really watch that much TV. I probably watch Youtube and Netflix for like an hour every day.
Person 2: I actually don’t spend a lot of time on screens because I don’t really have any social media so I probably spend like.. well I usually spend like an hour a day doing my homework, I don’t know if that counts. And checking my email, like I check my email throughout the day, just in case I get any important notifications. Yeah, I don’t really do anything on the internet.
Person 3: I think maybe accumulated, throughout the whole day, like a good six hours, maybe-- maybe-- I don’t even know. Because see, when I wake up, that’s the first thing I do, I check my phone and then I’m walking around, you know, getting ready for my day in the morning, you know, looking at my phone, texting people. ‘Cause see me, I’m a friendly guy so I’ll text people good morning ‘cause I tend to fall asleep on people in the middle of the night and then I feel bad. I’m like, “Sh*t, I hella catted on them so let me hit her up with this good morning text real quick, you know. So I’ll be going through my day, periodically checking my phone, but I’m not really addicted addicted like people like to say I am, I’ve actually been accused of being terrible at answering my phone, you know, because of all the negative connotations that come with being a lightskinned male. You know, “lightskins never answer their phone.” But I don’t consciously do it. And then you know, I Skype, I go on Facebook. One of my things is when I first get home I sit on my bed and check my notifications, check what’s going on in the world.. I’m mostly on Instagram. I think that has to be my most used app. I still am not really active on Facebook but I check it. Soundcloud, I check the notifications and messages. I haven’t put out music in a really long time. But I, like, was a part of a collective so if any of my members has any new music I’ll post it and like it, share it with the outside world so in that sense I’m on social media. But I don’t have a Twitter or anything like that. And I stopped playing video games when I got to high school.
How often do you feel you have things you are looking forward to, and what are some examples?
Person 1: Sometimes when I’m farther away from something I feel like I look forward to it more than when I get closer to it, which is weird. When I get closer to something, I get kind of negative and I start thinking “oh, it’s not gonna live up to my expectations” and then it doesn’t so then I like think that about everything, so then I stop get excited about anything and then… I get excited about something and then it disappoints me. Recently I’ve been feeling like I don’t get as excited about things in my life as I did maybe when I was younger.
I really look forward to the One Direction concert. Also, sometimes I really look forward to just going home. Now that it’s the school year I don’t really look forward to going to parties or anything like that, I mainly look forward to being at home and being in my bed, sleeping.
Person 2: Like every week I look forward to Friday a lot. Just not being in school for two days and then on Fridays I usually hang out with all my friends from different schools and we all hang out in parks or hang out around Lake Merritt. I can always rely on some of my friends to be with me on a Friday afternoon, so I look forward to Fridays and the simple pleasure that they offer.
Person 3: I try to hang out every Saturday. So I think once a week or so. Twice a week, actually, because I value my Wednesdays. My jobs on break right now but when I’m actually in working mode I value and look forward to Wednesdays because Wednesdays are when I don’t have work I can go home, chill, actually do my homework on time. This is gonna sound lame but I’m actually an avid fan of Steven Universe, and my younger brother watches it, and we watch it together. As a pair. And that’s when the new episodes come out. Same with Adventure Time and Regular show, they all come out on that day. So I totally watch it, and totally nerd out. I look forward to Saturday, ‘cause that’s my hangout day, so if I’m making plans with some people, I’m looking forward to Saturday. Friday sometimes. I try to keep myself pretty busy.
How often do you feel like you have things you are dreading in a week, and what are some examples?
Person 1: When I procrastinated more I dreaded things more than I do now. If there’s an assignment that I just don’t want to do so I haven’t done it yet, I get like an “Ooh, I don’t even want to go to school” kind of feeling. Just going to school in general.
Person 2: The entire week. Going to school. I dread that every single morning. I dread getting up at 6:00 every day-- actually I get up at 7:00 so I dread getting up at 7:00 every day. Yeah I think school’s it cause that’s just the only thing I don’t like doing with my time that I’m currently doing. I guess I also dread like planning for the future and stuff and doing my homework.
Person 3: There’s so many. Homework-- no, Mr. Taylor’s Psychology homework. The thing about it is, it’s all really interesting, it’s probably one of the most interesting classes I’ve ever taken, but actually sitting and reading and doing the homework is such a chore that I’m just mad. And then, like, I’ll do all that work and I’ll miss like one thing and if you don’t write down that one thing he’s looking for, you didn’t do the homework at all.
I dread most of the things I’m doing at the last minute, it’s mostly homework. I’ll come home late after work and I’m like “oh man, I still have all that stuff to do.” That’s what I dread. The future as well. But I have mixed feelings. There’s the “knowing what you want” part, and there’s the “how you’re gonna get there”. Both of them are difficult.
What are the things that you do in an average week that make you the most happy?
Person 1: I really like driving with my mom and I really like being with my dogs, and I really like hanging out with my best friends and that’s probably it.
Person 2: Um, mmm, that's hard. Ok, preparing my outfits every day. At night I choose what clothes I’m gonna wear the next day, and I really like clothes, so that’s like one of the main things that brings me joy every day. What also makes me happy? I don’t know, I guess if I’ve been out for a while and I take the bus home, I like that, like, final transportation back to my house. Yeah, that’s it.
Person 3: Well I like drawing to be honest. I mean, I like the fact that I can just be around art. I think at our school we take it for granted. And sometimes to be honest it can get a little mundane even though. I really like that I can just be around creative people and have a deep-ass conversation, and people are actually smart enough and passionate enough to debate instead of just giving a dry answer. I like that I can be in a stimulating environment, and there are people that are better than you. I think I like a challenge over being in an environment where your brain gets dull because you have nothing to sharpen it against. I like music, I like buying new music. I don’t know, kinda like in a weird place in my life right now. Happiness is a weird thing to think about right now. I’m more kind of content. I love hearing philosophies, hearing different views on things, because the world is interesting. People are interesting.
What are the things that you do in an average week that make you the most stressed or upset?
Person 1: School. Definitely school. or when I am social and it doesn’t turn out like I thought it would and then I blame it on myself. like maybe I’m hanging out with a group of people and maybe I’m not as outgoing as I wanted to be or it doesn’t make me feel better in the way that I thought it was going to.
Person 2: Ok, hanging out with people I don’t really want to hang out with, like my friend’s friends or something, or going somewhere and just hanging out with the same people, knowing that nothing new is gonna happen but still doing it and still going there. Yeah, that stresses me out and irritates me.
Person 3: I guess like I said homework. Right now, you wanna know what stresses me out? Money. Like for the future, and college. Things cost money, and a college education does not grow on trees. You don’t wanna be so in debt that you’re like a slave to the bank. That’s like something that I think about. Right now I’m in the ap art concentration. Right now, we’re doing modern takes on ancient history. Thinking of themes, or how I can address a theme can be really difficult. It really got me stressin’ sometimes, because you’re tryna prove something. Deadlines, or projects that I’m working on. I’m really bad at doing the technical side of anything. How I can help people.
If you didn’t have to be in high school right now, what would you be spending your time doing?
Person 1: I would be in Hawaii and I would be scuba diving. That’s what I‘d be doing full time.
Person 2: Traveling Europe. Hitchhiking around different countries ‘cause it’s safe to hitchhike there. Eating food and playing music and writing poetry and painting and just, like, exploring, and going to beaches, and the forest and riding my bike places. In Europe.
Person 3: I know exactly what I’d be doing. What I would be doing is working on my new movie/album because like for school I do all these different things, but honestly I wish I could put all my energy into my craft, and what I wanna put out, cause recently just seeing so many people who need help, I wanna use my art for good, and really helping people, and I think good music or visual storytelling, that’s like a really powerful thing that can reach out to people because it’s not really preach-y. There’s an element of free will for the viewers. I think it’s really beautiful if you can provide people with alternatives. They don’t even really have to accept it. Just to get people to think on their own. In Psychology they say that the more stimulated your brain is, the more intelligent you are, the more open you are. I feel like if people were able to provide people with different kinds of things, and address things that they’re not teaching in schools, like depression and teen suicide, and how to fit in in society. I always felt like my mission here is providing people with something different. I feel like if I wasn’t at school, I’d be focused on helping people, and working on creating something beautiful. Especially because my friend passed away from suicide earlier this year, working on making the world a better place, for him. So that’s what I’d be doing if I wasn’t in high school right now.
On a scale of one to ten, how happy would you say you are?
Person 1: Right now, probably like a 4. Mediocre.
Person 2: Maybe 5 because I don’t feel like particularly happy, but I don’t feel bad, like it changes day to day but i don’t know, generally i’m just kind of going along and waiting for happiness to come at some point.
Person 3: I think, if anything, I’d say maybe 6, 6 and a half? Because I’m content, I’m enjoying life, I like what’s happening in life and I’m very grateful, but this is kind of like a stage that I’m just kind of going through. I don’t really know what happiness is, but I know I’ll know it when I see it. But you know, I love life. I love the little things.
If you could change one thing about your life, what would it be?
Person 1: I would be more outgoing ‘cause I feel like I’m an outgoing person. Sometimes I feel like I just go back into the shell that I created when I was little, so I want to learn how to be able to control that and be able to be outgoing when I feel like being outgoing and not just freeze. And be happy.
Person 2: I would probably just change my, like, pessimistic habits. I feel like I fall back on a lot of negative patterns of thinking because I’ve either been programmed to think these things or I’ve just acquired them over time, and I want to extinguish them from my life.
Person 3: I think, being more diligent, and being more aware of things, because I’m motivated to do things, but if I was actually more self disciplined to do things, and aware of my situation in life things would be a lot better. For example, I make a lot of plans but I never actually do them. If I was more disciplined, a lot of things would happen. Or like, I’m really nice to people but sometimes I get involved with not-so-good people, or people that I think are good for me but actually aren’t, and if I were able to put my foot down and see what’s really going on in the world and kind of take care of myself better. Because I’m always trying to consider other people’s feelings, and it’s not always good for me. Or sometimes because I’m not diligent, I can’t really help the people I intend to help. Like my friend, I could’ve called him before he passed away.
Between Person 1 and Person 2, both had similar sleep patterns and commitments to healthy eating. One thing that I thought was interesting was the differing attitudes to their family members, including their relationships with their fathers. Both are teenage girls, but they had differing levels of comfort in talking to their dads about personal problems.
There was also a connection between all 3 interviewees in their attitudes towards school. According to the Nuffield Foundation, the past thirty to forty years have seen an increase in anxiety and depression among teens, as well as a rise in the amount of time that adolescents spend in school, rather than maintaining a job or career. While there is not necessarily a correlation in these statistics, students’ discontent with school shows that they would often rather be spending their time in their own independent pursuits. The Elements Behavioral Health website reflects: “Today, more teens stay in school longer and delay entering the workforce, which effectively extends the unstructured teenage years, often well into the 20s.” The confusion and emotional turmoil of being a teenager continues for longer than ever before, increasing stress, anxiety and depression levels to almost a breaking point, as well as prompting dread when it comes to “planning for the future”, as Person 2 and Person 3 noted. Because we are given opposing messages on getting a job in our teenage years, we have become more unsure and hesitant, and our motivation stagnant. Without responsibility and the expectation or support to enter into an adult experience, we are unable to gain adequate maturity to feel confident about moving forward.
This also includes social skills. Person 1, 2, and 3 all expressed discontent with their social interactions, blaming both themselves and their peers for unsatisfying experiences. Difficulty reaching out to others, repetitiveness and lack of connection or communication, bad intentions and lack of strength in “putting my foot down” are all reported culprits of lack of satisfaction in social interactions. An article on healthland.time.com states that 1 in 8 shy teens has social anxiety. Though the students I interviewed may not all suffer from shyness, pressure when it comes to friends and being accepted is common.
Overall, all teenagers are different, but there are certain factors that we can find in common. The way we spend our weeks, including social, academic, sleep, and eating habits, is a reflection of our wellbeing, priorities, and identities.