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How Teens Feel About Real World Issues...

What Challenges Do Teens Face and How Do They Cope?

Teen Challenges

Question:  What was the most difficult thing you overcame this school year? 


Answer:  Our results are in.  Out of over 6,400 teen visitors, 1,400 poll/survey votes and nearly 300 submitted essays, we found out some very interesting things...

Below is StageofLife.com's summary report on teens' responses to the things that were the biggest challenges or obstacles this school year.  This report was compiled from the data, insights and essays shared by students in high school and college participating in StageofLife.com's student writing contest series.

The teen challenge essays shared below can also be used as part of our "Notes to the Teacher" resources - tips for teachers to use this material to spur teen dialogue, writing, and inspiration in the classroom.  For this teen trend report, we've built out a robust list of recommended Young Adult books and novels that deal with teen issues.

Teen Challenges - Introduction:


Notes to the Teacher - Ideas for the ClassroomWe all go through the fire.  For teens and college students, the formative years of growing into adulthood often bring stresses and pressures from lots of angles...

  • Problems at home
  • Issues at school
  • Pressure from friends
  • Lack of confidence from within
  • Etc.

Hundreds of students shared a personal story in which they faced an obstacle, challenge, issue or problem (big or small) during the school year and shared how they dealt with it when they answered our writing contest prompt...

"I Overcame:  What was the most difficult thing you overcame this school year?"




Student Reach:

Teen visitors to monthly StageofLife.com writing contestOver 6,000 students from all 50 US states and dozens of countries visited the StageofLife.com writing contest during the month of essay contest, with 1,400+ votes occurring in the teen survey poll and hundreds of high school and college students then submitting qualifying essays about the obstacles they faced this school year via their 500 word essay. 

From the essay submissions, five key themes and trends emerged about teen problems:

Teen Trends / Themes on Overcoming Obstacles:

  • School:  School was the number one stressor for teens this school year; especially junior year. Teens talked about AP courses, problems with grades, long-term projects, and the high expectations they set for themselves—and were afraid they couldn’t reach.
  • Self-Image:  Teens struggled with confidence this year, too. Of course, many of these stories boiled down to a similar moral: be yourself, love yourself, and most importantly, enjoy yourself. Be the best person you can possibly be.
  • Sports:  Many teens suffered sports related injuries and failures. While this had teens sitting on the bench, it did not have these teens settling with disappointment or failure—these injuries or mishaps only inspired teens to try harder, and do better.
  • Drugs/alcohol:  This is good news—many teens did not write about struggling with drug or alcohol problems, which speaks positively of the Stage of Life community. Stage of Life strives to be a support system and community for all walks of life—without the interference of nuisances like intoxicants.
  • Positive:  While many teens wrote about their struggles this school year, all teens wrote about viewing these struggles positively. If nothing else, these teens discovered that life is a learning experience; a journey, not a destination.


Data from Teen Survey:

Of the high school and college students either visiting StageofLife.com, completing the teen survey or participating in the essay contest...

  • Teen Trends Survey Results - StageofLife.com6,434 teen/college students from 72 countries visited writing contest page (89% were from the US)
  • 1,423 poll votes were gathered
  • 285 qualified essays were submitted (see below essays)
  • Top ten U.S. states sending students to the writing contest page (in rank percentage order):

            1. California    
            2. Pennsylvania
            3. New York
            4. New Jersey
            5. Texas
            6. Florida
            7. Georgia
            8. Virginia
            9. Minnesota
            10. Illinois

The top three things that gave teens the most difficulty or problems this school year were (along with the percentage of teens citing that issue as the biggest problem):

  1. School Related Issues (bullying, teachers, homework, graduation):  27%
  2. Self Image:  20%
  3. Parents:  16%
  4. Other categories such as Friends, Drugs & Alcohol, Siblings, Boy/Girlfriends, etc. fell further down the list


Geographically, certain areas of the US experience a higher percentage of similar teen problems than others.  For instance:

  • Coastal south east (VA, SC, NC):  Teens have a higher percentage of problems with their parents than the other obstacles
  • Oklahoma was the only state in which Drugs & Alcohol came in as the #1 teen problem compared to the other issues
  • Hawaii and Alaska:  Teens living in Hawaii and Alaska both listed "parents" as their biggest problem
  • All areas of the US see teens experiencing problems at school

Teen Issues - Resources:

For each writing contest, StageofLife.com provides the visiting teens and college students a list of websites or resources to explore before, during or after their essay submission.  Our resource partners for this monthly Stage of Life writing contest were:




The Essays about Teen Challenges:Writing Tips for Teen Challenges 


Immediately below, you'll find featured links to the StageofLife.com winning essay, our semi-finalists and over 250 other teen trend essays from college students and teenagers that answered the question, "What was the most difficult thing you overcame this school year?"

Please take a few moments to read an essay or two. If you have the time, make a comment on the responses you enjoyed the most.  We know the student writers will love hearing your positive input (they'll get an email notifying them if you comment on their contest entry).



Student Writing Contest Winner

Winner:  I Overcame my first break-up by schoi94 (Streams of thought about her recent break-up with her boyfriend)


Runners-Up: 



40 Finalists:

  • Finalists - Teen Challenges EssaysI Overcame my anxiety with a taste of perspective by qfan2012 (This writer’s father pushed her to succeed so hard she passed out in school)
  • I Overcame the fear of almost losing the one closest to me by mkogan17 (His mother’s breast cancer diagnosis forced him to grow into the “man of the house”)
  • I overcame loss by Mancub55 (This teen lost his dad in the course of a day)
  • I Overcame overwhelming peer pressure by pocketfulofpoppies (This writer stayed strong to her morals, even if it meant losing friends)
  • I Overcame Freshman Year by Keyy (This writer’s freshman year took a rocky turn when she got into a fight with a close friend)
  • I Overcame My Best Friend’s Death by mynameisASHley (This teen lost two of her close friends to a preventable ATV accident)
  • I Overcame what would have been my friend’s sixteenth birthday by 1605102 (This teen lost her close friend when she was seven)
  • I Overcame my first break-up by schoi94 (Streams of thought about her recent break-up with her boyfriend)
  • I Overcame My Own Heart by jyamamura (Prose about his struggle to tell his ex how much she hurt him)
  • I Overcame my fear of the future by Salad (This writer wanted to be a doctor… but then realized it wouldn’t be what she thought)
  • I Overcame a soldier’s transition by JasonmDouglas (This soldier found an easy transition to civilian life by enrolling in college)
  • I Overcame the fear of uncertainty by skg31 (College taught her that not everything in life can be planned or controlled)
  • I Overcame Myself and a Horrible Report Card by coolazndude (This student learned about himself thanks to an assortment of “bad” grades)
  • I Overcame Pre-IB by artfreak889 (This student survived a very rigorous academic schedule)
  • I Overcame the Junior Speech by kaliswan (This teen was terrified of public speaking)
  • I Overcame the total hate I had for school by Mele Writer (This teen found her best friend in school after finding a stranger crying in a bathroom)
  • The Night of August 10, 2010 (The Night I Was Raped) Did I Overcome It? by Purple.Moonlite (She was able to overcome her fear of her rapist and speak in court)
  • I Overcame the pain of purposelessness by brooki67 (She does not let her father’s abrupt departure define who she is)
  • I Overcame Fear by Chelarose (She escaped a destructive friendship)
  • I Overcame My Preconceived Notions by MichelleC (A tough high school experience made her strong and wise)
  • I Overcame my self-consciousness by Cynthiak93 (Letters to her self-consciousness)
  • I Overcame Being in the Psych Ward by Sidney820 (Prose about this writer’s experience in a psych ward)
  • I Overcame a Traumatic Experience by rAPEL student (This teen survived a horrendous car crash that resulted in a fear of driving)
  • I Overcame my unbearable shyness by KL94 (This teen’s friends forced her to learn self confidence after they nominated her for social queen)
  • I Overcame the overwhelming pressures of life by AN11 (This writer learned that it is okay if you are not perfect)
  • I Overcame self-hate by renegade-angel (This teen learned that everyone has struggles)
  • I Overcame—My Fractured Hope by Shinjini (Prose about life’s disappointments)
  • I Overcame a Life of Quiet Desperation by ishmealarmageddon (She worked to become motivated and informed)
  • I Overcame Negativity by Withanayin (This teen made herself happier by focusing on the positives in her life)
  • I Overcame false expectations by NRNT (This writer competition take over her love her art, sports, and friends)
  • I Overcame unconsciousness by StephanieWilliams72865 (This student learned to actually see, instead of just looking)
  • I Overcame the person I thought I was by sammjcs (This writer molded her personality to what she thought others wanted to see)
  • I Overcame Myself, the Media, and Anyone Who Tells Me Otherwise by Kaitesbs (Confidence begins with positivity)
  • I Overcame My Disability by gcrawford (This student struggled to succeed in school after being diagnosed with PTSD)
  • I Overcame the Fear of Quitting by moolive (This student decided to quit some activities in order to give herself more time to focus on things she excelled in)
  • I Overcame America by falcovfrancesca (This teen survived a move to the place she feared most: America)
  • I Overcame Myself by anna.libertin (This writer overcame her fear of starting high school)
  • I Overcame my fear of working in an unfamiliar environment and being proactive by KristyC (This teen tutored non-English speaking students)
  • I Overcame a Single Inch by spcrowl (This teen conquered a very tough high jump)
  • I Overcame Heart Break by maycock (This teen suffered the devastating loss of her grandfather)


    Aside from the finalists, we had a wide variety of teen writing contest entry essays about teen obstacles and challenges.  We've categorized the responses by how the writer identified their biggest obstacle, i.e. school, family, friends, work, etc.:

    What was the most difficult thing you overcame this school year?

    Notes to the TeacherChallenges with Parents

    1. I overcame my fear of losing my family as a support system by gabbygj (This writer doesn’t feel at all supported by her family)

    2. I Overcame Reality by michness (She felt unsupported by her parents in her goal to be a writer)

    3. I Overcame Dependency by fhstar9 (This teen does not rely on her mother for anything except medical bills)

    4. I overcame my mother by wisemanc (This teens is tired of her mother)

    5. I Overcame Problematic Parents by cooper2012 (This teen’s parents practiced a religion that did not allow him to attend college)

    6. I overcame my anxiety with a taste of perspective by qfan2012 (This writer’s father pushed her to succeed so hard she passed out in school)

    7. I Overcame a Dysfunctional Relationship by oliviagolden (This teen and her mother fought a lot)

    8. I overcame the fear of almost losing the one closest to me by mkogan17 (His mother’s breast cancer diagnosis forced him to grow into the “man of the house”)

    9. I overcame having no home by CeeCalvin (This teen and her mother lost their home)

    10. I overcame the stress of my dad’s deployment by HollyDays (This teen’s dad’s deployment was both emotionally and fiscally draining)

    11. I overcame the absence of my father by justinemurray (This teen learned to move on after her father abandoned her)

    12. I overcame stress from my parents by musicnlife94 (This teen learned to balance her parent’s expectations with her own pace)

    13. I overcame emotional pain by acceptance by marindaxlove (This teen’s dad’s absence taught her self-reliance)

    14. I overcame parental pressue by littlefishie (This teen was tired of her parent’s nagging)

    15. I overcame the fear of my mother dying by emsha (This writer’s mother and grandfather were both deathly ill at the same time)

    16. I overcame the ideal image my parents had of me by cheyennerolle (The only opinion that matters is your own)

    17. I Overcame Leaving my Family… by Rish03 (This teen was uprooted from her “safe” home with her grandparents, and moved to a home with her mother)

    18. I Overcame My Insecurities About My Family Situation by Effervescent (This writer learned that, even though she does not have a traditional family, she still has people who love and care about her)

    19. I overcame losing my parents by Csh_880 (This teen lost her parents when she was 7)

    20. I overcame loss by Mancub55 (This teen lost his dad in the course of a day)

    21. I Overcame My Mother by p.smith793 (This teen’s mom pushed her to work, even though she had a lot of schoolwork)

    22. I overcame my parent’s divorce by sapcheer (Her parent’s divorce taught her to take her family seriously)

    23. I overcame stress from parents by bbrandman (This teen learned to succeed by balancing schoolwork and activities… and pressure from her parents)

    Challenges with Friends

    1. I overcame overwhelming peer pressure by pocketfulofpoppies (This writer stayed strong to her morals, even if it meant losing friends)

    2. I Overcame Freshman Year by Keyy (This writer’s freshman year took a rocky turn when she got into a fight with a close friend)

    3. I overcame switching groups of friends by sundevil92129 (This teen dropped her old friends because of their destructive lifestyles)

    4. I Overcame Bad Friendships by mpeps95 (This teen was not respected by her friends)

    5. I overcame choosing bad friends by sanya100 (This teen had toxic friendships)

    6. I overcame hanging out with the wrong crowd by amanda17 (This teen made bad choices with old “friends”)

    7. I overcame having to leave my friends behind by bigster95 (A big move from Canada to Kansas forced this teen to leave behind his friends)

    8. I Overcame Bad Friends by hydiahunte (This teen stopped speaking to the bad friends in her life)

    9. I Overcame: A Story of Refuting Pain by Inverted Existence (This teen learned not to speak badly of people)

    10. I Overcame My Best Friend’s Death by mynameisASHley (This teen lost two of her close friends to a preventable ATV accident)

    11. I Overcame a Miracle Death by SarahShi (This teen suffered the loss of a classmate)

    12. I overcame my friends by mitthali (This teen’s “friends” abandoned her once she changed her image)

    13. I Overcame My Traumatic Birthday Party by Tya18 (This teen’s 18th birthday was ruined by the wrong name on her cake)

    14. I overcame losing friends by Vashti (God helped this teen overcome losing friends)

    15. I Overcame Drama by felicia (This teen’s friend got angry at her over a misunderstanding)

    16. I overcame “Stress” this year… by nkkposey347 (Her friend helped her deal with stress)

    17. I overcame what would have been my friend’s sixteenth birthday by 1605102 (This teen lost her close friend when she was seven)

    18. I overcame popularity by dabby (This teen learned that popularity doesn’t matter when she met her two best friends)

    19. I Overcame The Girls by trose (This teen learned that friends will be there forever)

    Challenges with Relationships or Boyfriend/Girlfriend

    1. I overcame my first break-up by schoi94 (Streams of thought about her recent break-up with her boyfriend)

    2. I Overcame My Own Heart by jyamamura (Prose about his struggle to tell his ex how much she hurt him)

    3. I Overcame Failure by alexbusse234 (This teen learned that failure makes a person stronger)

    4. I overcame my limited view of life by yimingzhou94 (He learned to look at a situation from a different POV thanks to a bad break up)

    5. I overcame distance by Mr.holden18 (This teen survived a long-distance relationship thanks to his faith in God)

    6. I overcame the loss of a best friend by mashleym03 (This teen suffered a tough break up, not only losing a boyfriend but a best friend)

    7. I Overcame This Distance by p.smith793 (This teen is in a long-distance relationship with her boyfriend)

    8. I Overcame a Controlling Boyfriend by jenx817 (This teen survived a controlling and unhealthy relationship)

    9. I overcame a relationship problem by emiller (This teen learned how not to break up with a boy)

    Challenges with School: Teachers, Grades, Graduation, Bullying

    1. I overcame my fear of the future by Salad (This writer wanted to be a doctor… but then realized it wouldn’t be what she thought)

    2. I overcame pessimism by Korrin1 (This writer was going to the same tiny school as her ex-boyfriend)

    3. I overcame my fear of living away from home by efrizzy (This student was nervous about beginning college as a transfer student)

    4. I overcame a soldier’s transition by JasonmDouglas (This soldier found an easy transition to civilian life by enrolling in college)

    5. I overcame a major transition by rawan11 (She was sad about leaving her mom and friends for college)

    6. What was the most difficult thing you overcame this school year? by shahanaazfathimaa (She overcame her fear of being “ragged on” by seniors)

    7. I Overcame Doubt by riserthinking (Dance helped her make a decision about graduate school)

    8. I overcame the fear of uncertainty by skg31 (College taught her that not everything in life can be planned or controlled)

    9. I overcame balancing advanced classes with activities by jessicarosec (This teen took several AP classes and planned to continue her favorite activities, too)

    10. I overcame public exams by laulau (This teen feels tricked by public exams)

    11. I overcame my idealized image by tle1925 (This writer did not let the pressure of her new high school bring her down)

    12. I overcame Calculus by auphold (Even though counselors/teachers encouraged this writer not to take high level math classes, this writer did—and succeeded)

    13. I Overcame School by jwat (This student finds it difficult to study)

    14. I overcame a bad teacher by ericaaa (This teen had a tough year thanks to a bad teacher)

    15. I Overcame Time by brittster44jersey (This writer learned to balance school and work)

    16. I Overcame my Junior Year by bagail (This student barely had anytime to herself this year)

    17. I Overcame Myself and a Horrible Report Card by coolazndude (This student learned about himself thanks to an assortment of “bad” grades)

    18. I overcame rejection (This writer got rejected from the high school of her dreams)

    19. I Overcame Decisions by dailyheadband (Decisions that you make in high school can affect you for the rest of your life)

    20. I overcame the challenges of surviving my new and difficult high school by keertisri23 (This student created several study strategies to help him succeed in his difficult high school)

    21. I overcame what I would have to overcome by Bsand94 (This student studied abroad in France, and is going to find goodbyes difficult)

    22. I Overcame Pre-IB by artfreak889 (This student survived a very rigorous academic schedule)

    23. I overcame an English paper by chowaznmein (This student spent a late night writing a very important English paper)

    24. I Overcame Bullies by Jadee (This writer chose to end a toxic friendship with the school bullies)

    25. I Overcame Schoolwork by thomasvv (This writer survived a school year of heavy homework)

    26. I overcame a breaking down school by jacky (Her school went from okay to bad)

    27. I overcame my disappointment in myself by SuppiOkashi (This writer was overwhelmed with her workload, and ended up disappointing herself)

    28. I Overcame My Own Doubt by 1803182 (This writer pushed herself to succeed in tough courses and a rigorous swim schedule)

    29. I overcame my Junior year by tanyan (This writer was worried about grades and track season)

    30. I overcame the hardships of learning music by neha_vaingankar (This teen was passionate about classical singing, but couldn’t find the time to do it)

    31. I Overcame the Junior Speech by kaliswan (This teen was terrified of public speaking)

    32. I overcame the loss of hope from junior year by Sean Madison (This student got his first B during his junior year)

    33. I overcame junior year by pokadotz (This student took 4 AP classes)

    34. I overcame five stressful AP classes by jasonyg94 (This student took five time-consuming AP classes)

    35. I overcame my fears of the dreaded Junior Paper by Mwade (This teen learned to persevere through a difficult yearlong assignment)

    36. I overcame the stress of my hectic schedule by czin (All stress gets rewarded)

    37. I Overcame My Fear of Writing the Junior Paper by jetbot33 (This student learned strategies to help him conquer the junior paper)

    38. I Overcame the Cram by alexjkim (Studying hard made her stronger)

    39. I Overcame School Pressures by victoriaung (This teen learned that a good education will get you far in life)

    40. I Overcame School by GinaAPEL (This teen learned to conquer three difficult AP classes)

    41. I Overcame the Second Letter of the Alphabet by rani12 (This student’s sickness led to her first B)

    42. I overcame the stress of balancing school, club sports, and the SATs by taylorabeyta (This teen learned to juggle her intensely busy life)

    43. I Overcame the Stress of High School by 1804887 (This teen learned to put things in perspective, and found high school less stressful)

    44. I overcame “senioritis” and procrastination by Kaven862 (This teen needed help to keep her work on track)

    45. I overcame scheduling my extra-curricular activities into my daily routine by musicfanatic (This teen survived her busy schedule thanks to her family, friends, and passion)

    46. I overcame the stress of junior year by marina (This writer learned to put stressful situations into perspective)

    47. I Overcame the Fear of a Choir Teacher by emeecamee (This teen proved a rude choir teacher wrong)

    48. I overcame by shriya_chhabra (This student found out that procrastination negatively affects grades)

    49. I overcame the difficulties in finding a balance by jmust777 (This student learned to balance school and extracurricular activities)

    50. I Overcame June 13th by pmagallanes (This teen is looking forward to graduation)

    51. I overcame college applications… and all their implications by AStrott (This teen accomplished sending out all of her college applications)

    52. I Overcame Junior Year by mikaelamatthews (This teen survived the hardest year of high school)

    53. I overcame AP Physics by thedayea (This teen studied hard for an A in a class that she had started to fail)

    54. I overcame my fear of public speaking by wardstudent (This teen squashed her fears of public speaking with the help of a good friend)

    55. I Overcame the Power of Pressure by swang (This student learned to make pressure positive)

    56. I overcame stress by YueHan (This teen is very relieved that school is almost over)

    57. I overcame the difficulties of junior year by svargas (This teen survived a busy school year)

    58. I overcame junior year by elise.edison (This teen is grateful for the stress of the school year, since she learned how to balance it all)

    59. I Overcame Time by JonathanJames (This teen learned valuable time management skills)

    60. I Overcame an Overwhelming Assignment (With a Little Help) by AnneKMT123 (This teen learned valuable research paper skills thanks to her dad)

    61. I overcame my grades by Amber32 (This teen learned how to study)

    62. I Overcame My First Year of High School by willthinnes (This teen changed from a private middle school to public high school)

    63. I Overcame the Woodshop of Horrors by Greasysweet (This teen switched out of a difficult class)

    64. I overcame bad grades by patrickj115 (This teen learned valuable study habits after his grades plummeted)

    65. I overcame my grades by jenniferjoe213 (This writer learned not to procrastinate homework—simple or hard)

    66. I overcame the minute hand of the clock by elpenguino31 (This teen desired success, despite her busy schedule)

    67. I Overcame Senioritis by Cydon51 (High school students don’t have real problems)

    68. I overcame the end of the term crisis by Funsizedchick (This teen did everything she could to bring her failing grade up to an A)

    69. I overcame the struggle by noma_789 (This teen worked hard to do well in the junior ROTC program)

    70. I overcame CIS by Jayrando (This teen switched schools)

    71. I overcame the total hate I had for school by Mele Writer (This teen found her best friend in school after finding a stranger crying in a bathroom)

    72. I Overcame the Hectic Juggling of High School Life by tahoang (This teen learned that life is much easier with time management)

    73. I Overcame My English Class by abanana47 (This writer had a tough English teacher, but learned a lot about the English language)

    74. I Overcame the Survey by Kfrank12 (This teen learned the value of hard work)

    75. I overcame my Fear of Failure by a.r.ash (Students should only set goals that are realistic for them)

    76. I Overcame School/Graduation by tiffaniemariexo (This teen pulled her act together after ditching class freshman year, and managed to graduate on time senior year)

    77. I overcame high school by LANE_F (When things seem their worst, you can still overcome them)

    78. I Overcame Graduation by chris.moriarty (This teen learned valuable tips to help students graduate on time)

    79. I overcame the obstacles of high school by Kaluni (This teen thought high school was an excuse to hang out with friends)

    80. I overcame judgment by Sbe566 (This teen doesn’t like the way her town segregates into cliques)

    81. I Overcame School by Ceeg3 (This teen was very stressed out about school)

    82. I overcame the problem known as xbox 360 by thedevilmaycry (This teen was obsessed with his xbox 360)

    83. I overcame… by ButtaJRB (This teen overcame being the new student in high school)

    84. I overcame high school by grady77 (This teen endured a tough four years of high school)

    85. I overcame my teachers by 3126 (This teen had a rough relationship with his teachers)

    86. I overcame getting through high school by jjo540 (This teen took drugs and blew off school; but then made a decision to straighten up and graduate)

    87. I overcame the mental roadblock I had built over the years… by hto681 (This teen was motivated to succeed by his girlfriend)

    88. I Overcame Myself In Ways I Didn’t Think Possible by Brinley4 (This teen successfully conquered a tough and busy school year)

    89. I Overcame the Albatross of Time by 1861-65 (This teen overcame a brutally busy schedule)

    90. I overcame the stress of school by jessiann1 (This teen had a busy school year)

    91. I overcame the start of high school by metsrule57 (Tips for high school students about surviving high school)

    92. I overcame the stress of school, parents, and serving on my BBYO chapter board by rachelbotter (This teen learned to prioritize her life)

    Challenges with Self-Image

    1. I Overcame Helplessness by hmh10 (This student’s friend contemplated suicide)

    2. I Overcame Suicide by LSBAuthor (She overcame life-changing depression)

    3. The Night of August 10, 2010 (The Night I Was Raped) Did I Overcome It? by Purple.Moonlite (She was able to overcome her fear of her rapist and speak in court)

    4. I Overcame Loneliness by AshEli (A kind friend at her junior college helped her realize the value of friends)

    5. I overcame the pain of purposelessness by brooki67 (She does not let her father’s abrupt departure define who she is)

    6. I overcame fear by Akimbo (She overcame her fear of living in Chicago)

    7. I Overcame My Self Worth by paige.nikles (Going to a public school hurt her self esteem)

    8. I Overcame My Obsession With Perfection by pineapple (A ‘B’ grade helped her realize that being “perfect” isn’t everything)

    9. I overcame extreme depression by Maqui (Her ex-boyfriend stopped her from committing suicide)

    10. I Overcame Fear by Chelarose (She escaped a destructive friendship)

    11. I overcame my shyness by akcheerfreak (She came out of her shell this school year)

    12. I overcame my lack of self-confidence by 11leeco (This student learned to stop caring so much about what other people think)

    13. I Overcame My Preconceived Notions by MichelleC (A tough high school experience made her strong and wise)

    14. I overcame anxiety (The stress of high school made this writer have panic attacks)

    15. I overcame my self-consciousness by Cynthiak93 (Letters to her self-consciousness)

    16. I Overcame Being in the Psych Ward by Sidney820 (Prose about this writer’s experience in a psych ward)

    17. I overcame my lack of confidence in my musical ability by BassLove (This student was not progressing on the bass because he was not confident)

    18. I Overcame a Traumatic Experience by rAPEL student (This teen survived a horrendous car crash that resulted in a fear of driving)

    19. I Overcame the Toils of Self Esteem by nmorgan12 (This writer learned to love her body for how it is)

    20. I Overcame Performance Anxiety by nmanalo7 (This writer learned to enjoy her passion for performing for others)

    21. I Overcame My Anxiety of Trying New Things by Kendall (This teen swallowed her fear and become a photographer for her school newspaper)

    22. I overcame my dark demons by dmaesan09 (This teen found God during dark times in her life)

    23. I Overcame Self Doubt by mystri99 (This teen learned to be proud of her performance on the volleyball team)

    24. I overcame my mental breakdown by DBrewst4Prez (This teen learned to let people into her life)

    25. I Overcame My Self-Doubt by kellyo12 (This teen fought stress with writing)

    26. I Overcame an Identity Crisis by KayleeReed (This teen learned to be herself)

    27. I Overcame Self-Destruction by contrapuntalromance (God helped this teen overcome self-destruction)

    28. I Overcame My Pride by aellison (This teen learned not to take herself so seriously)

    29. I overcame lack of confidence by Leanna Canyon (This teen’s one-way friendship taught her to be her own person)

    30. I overcame self-image by livinlife (This teen learned to appreciate her body for how it looks)

    31. I overcame low self-esteem by abbashusssini25@yahoo.com (Wrestling helped this writer gain confidence)

    32. I overcame feelings of inferiority by Lovegood17 (This teen found confidence in her sexuality, and in civil rights)

    33. I Overcame Loneliness by lacksciontro (This teen learned to be herself)

    34. I overcame those doubts by ReadingLolitaInTehran (This teen realized that she is a beautiful and confident person)

    35. I Overcame My Fear of Disappointing Others by emilyrose429 (This student learned that her friends didn’t have the same high expectations of herself that she did)

    36. I overcame my lack of confidence by littlehotty144@aol.com (This student learned how to improve her grades)

    37. I overcame my unbearable shyness by KL94 (This teen’s friends forced her to learn self confidence after they nominated her for social queen)

    38. I overcame rejection by lgarne0122 (This student learned to be nice to her bullies)

    39. I Overcame Cutting by silverline427 (This teen’s family helped her recover from her addiction to cutting)

    40. I Overcame the Faith I Lost in Myself by SophiaKM (This teen taught herself to appreciate her strengths and bury her demons)

    41. I Overcame the Presence of A Girl Named Nancy by MuzicInsomniac (This teen learned to stop being such a “negative Nancy”)

    42. I Overcame Peer Pressure by auroreo23 (This teen learned to stop pleasing others, and love herself)

    43. I overcame a lack of self confidence and an abundance of atrocious grades by CCope (This teen’s need for a study group not only improved her grades, but also her self confidence)

    44. I overcame clinical depression by miruniya (This teen overcame realized life is beautiful with help from her principal)

    45. I Overcame the Big Struggle by Sarahbeth396 (This teen learned to be herself)

    46. I overcame the overwhelming pressures of life by AN11 (This writer learned that it is okay if you are not perfect)

    47. I overcame self-hate by renegade-angel (This teen learned that everyone has struggles)

    48. I Overcame Stage Fright by TheIAm79 (This teen took a leadership class that taught him public speaking skills)

    49. I Overcame Myself by helmicho (This writer learned to be tougher and less shy)

    50. I overcame coolness by rockon64 (This teen learned that coolness is only an opinion)

    51. I Overcame People by Kenzie_dramaqueen (The most important thing is to be yourself)

    52. I overcame my fear of self image by 1829527 (This teen learned to be confident in himself and his style)

    53. I overcame low self-esteem by Corelle (This teen learned that skin color is not important… it’s what’s inside that counts)

    54. I overcame low self-esteem by (This teen had “bad” friends—and the ex-boyfriend she still loved was dating her cousin)

    55. I overcame life by JoelRaisor (This teen hated life… until his friend lost someone very important to him)

    56. I overcame my own self by kazunangst (This teen showed her true self to her friends)

    57. I overcame the person in my mirror by Jess M. (This teen struggled with a low self opinion, until someone told her she didn’t have to)

    58. I overcame the fear of not being good enough by TEONCA (This teen learned to be happy with herself)

    59. I overcame the obstacle of making friends by Horcrus360 (This teen was once too shy to make friends)

    60. I Overcame—My Fractured Hope by Shinjini (Prose about life’s disappointments)

    Challenges with Drugs or Alcohol

    1. I overcame alcoholism… again by rlmoskosm (This writer had a drinking problem)

    2. I overcame… by Kimberlye1994 (This teen has chosen to focus on school, instead of using drugs with her “friends”)

    3. I Overcame the Intoxication of “Friends” by ZachAttackW (This teen drank frequently with “friends”)

    4. I overcame addiction by meridethhanscom (A poem about how this teen quit smoking)

    Challenges with Myself

    1. I overcame being a 15-year-old pregnant girl by swasion27 (Her pregnancy made her get her life back on track)

    2. I Overcame a Life of Quiet Desperation by ishmealarmageddon (She worked to become motivated and informed)

    3. I Overcame Negativity by Withanayin (This teen made herself happier by focusing on the positives in her life)

    4. I overcame false expectations by NRNT (This writer competition take over her love her art, sports, and friends)

    5. I overcame unconsciousness by StephanieWilliams72865 (This student learned to actually see, instead of just looking)

    6. I overcame the person I thought I was by sammjcs (This writer molded her personality to what she thought others wanted to see)

    7. I Overcame Myself, the Media, and Anyone Who Tells Me Otherwise by Kaitesbs (Confidence begins with positivity)

    8. I overcame the brick walls by Papples (This writer turned her disappointment into determination)

    9. I Overcame Being Irresponsible by kasia_redding (This writer was forced to be responsible after her coach took her off the starting line-up, and she got two bad grades)

    10. I overcame the fear of speaking up by dipsitesrule (Poetry about finding the courage to speak up)

    11. I overcame foolish, insatiable pride by IbadHJ (This student took a difficult math course to seem better than everyone else)

    12. I Overcame the Barriers I Created by 13eburke (This writer broke down her emotional barriers keeping her away from her emotions and her family)

    13. I Overcame My Disability by gcrawford (This student struggled to succeed in school after being diagnosed with PTSD)

    14. I Overcame My Blindness by WhoAreYoo (This student accepted his limitations)

    15. I overcame…? Obsession? Or indecision? by jk3 (This writer has calmed some OCD tendencies)

    16. I overcame insecurity by Alnebiolini (This writer was so insecure that she began picking on people in lower social circles)

    17. I Overcame Perfection by eclarke (This writer’s parent’s divorce made her realize that not everything is and can be perfect)

    18. I Overcame Limits by johnnchisholm (This writer decided to push himself to be better)

    19. I Overcame the Fear of Quitting by moolive (This student decided to quit some activities in order to give herself more time to focus on things she excelled in)

    20. I overcame the fear of growing up by vianalyn (This writer was afraid turning 18 would mean she would lose her family’s love)

    21. I Overcame the Fear of Unreached Goals by Shabnam (This teen learned that life goes on, despite bad grades and college rejections)

    22. I Overcame Overwork by blck_drgnfly (This teen learned that nothing is worth working to death)

    23. I Overcame the Weight on My Shoulders by vls1994 (This teen learned to carry a heavy burden)

    24. I Overcame Selfishness by rachelllee (This teen learned to be kinder to her mother and less selfish)

    25. I overcame being judgmental by alyssagormaly (This teen learned not to judge others based on their personal activities)

    26. I Overcame Myself by Whatshisname (This teen idolized Marilyn Manson)

    27. I overcame my own misguided mind by juaco28 (This student calls himself a “work in progress”)

    28. I overcame teenage pregnancy by aurelia (This teen learned to be a super mom)

    29. I Overcame Myself by Merari808 (This writer became happier once he stopped competing for his father’s love)

    30. I overcame myself by cocothndr94 (This teen found confidence despite his nagging self-consciousness)

    31. I overcame America by falcovfrancesca (This teen survived a move to the place she feared most: America)

    32. I Overcame My Stressful View On Life by vivi13 (This teen learned independence in her senior year)

    33. I Overcame a Coward’s Life by Chey’slife (This teen learned to open up to other people, and channel her sadness through her writing)

    34. I Overcame Myself by anna.libertin (This writer overcame her fear of starting high school)

    35. I overcame a moment in time by ktr697 (This teen learned time management skills)

    36. I Overcame Fear by Jordann (This teen learned that fear isn’t necessarily a bad thing)

    37. I Overcame Selfish Narrow-Mindedness by Bubdog (This teen thinks that reality is like a blur)

    38. I Overcame the Blues by Miss.Elizabeth (This teen learned to have confidence in her voice, despite its roughness from sickness)

    39. I overcame teen pregnancy by Malyn (This teen’s senior year was changed by her unexpected pregnancy)

    40. I overcame Hepatitis by cmjcmj12 (This teen contracted Hepatitis C while saving a young girl from barbed wire in Nicaragua)

    41. I Overcame Responsibility by coltonr (This teen learned the value of responsibility after moving in with his girlfriend)

    42. I overcame my green-eyed monster by savanna.wardlaw23 (This teen was jealous of her brother’s easy lifestyle)

    43. I Overcame Seclusion by ABaughman (This teen learned to open up and make new and better friends)

    44. I overcame so much by lmac95 (Personification prose about “desire”)

    45. I overcame myself by hihid27 (This teen overcame his struggles with ADD)

    Challenges at Work

    1. I overcame the workforce by helmsjul@hotmail.com (Her employers would not allow her to continue her education… until she quit)

    2. I overcame—No, God helped me overcome by desire90 (Her family was homeless for several months before her mother landed a job)

    3. I overcame… the struggles of maintaining my family life by Leuress (He holds down two jobs, school, and raises two kids)

    4. I overcame my fear of working in an unfamiliar environment and being proactive by KristyC (This teen tutored non-English speaking students)

    5. I Overcame Work Drama by kafffffryn (This teen learned a hard lesson about getting involved in her coworker’s relationship)

    Challenges with Sports

    1. I overcame failure in baseball to succeed in rowing by Jelly Donuts (He lived for baseball—until he got cut by the varsity team)

    2. I Overcame a Tough Season by 1chorusgirl (This teen struggled through a particularly touch lacrosse season)

    3. I overcame a serious injury that happened at the wrong time in my life by laxchick33 (This teen can’t play lacrosse for 9 months because of a torn ACL)

    4. I Overcame the Odds and Made the Team by soccer18 (This student worked extra hard to earn a very competitive spot on the soccer team)

    5. I overcame the injury that ended my best and last wrestling season by central55 (This student athlete suffered a torn ACL during a tough match)

    6. I Overcame a Single Inch by spcrowl (This teen conquered a very tough high jump)

    7. I overcame an injury by Laxheart16 (This student injured her hamstring during lacrosse season)

    8. I overcame Varsity Sports by beastpanda (This student had his most successful sports season to date)

    9. I overcame throwing in the towel by fasterthanbo (This teen decided to stick with the swim team, despite its toll on her schedule)

    10. I Overcame Adversity by Tannerb (This teen finished a successful cross country season despite an iron deficiency)

    11. I overcame my fear of low performances in sports by pnklili2 (This writer performed better on the field hockey field thanks to her teammates)

    12. I overcame my asthma by davidly (This teen pushed through a debilitating bout of asthma to complete a track season)

    13. I overcame my mental barrier by amanda18 (This teen learned to swim not only for herself, but for her teammates)

    14. I overcame cross country running by leslielimmy (This teen proved herself wrong and won most improved on her cross country team)

    15. I overcame failure by msmitty12 (This teen survived responsibility in a rough cross country season)

    16. I overcame benchwarming by Brittfoster3 (This teen is working hard to get off of the bench on her volleyball team)

    17. I Overcame the Anguish of Defeat by Eddie (This teen realized that you have to jump back up after falling)

    18. I Overcame a Grade Three Concussion by ciaobella14 (This teen suffered a severe brain injury that could have cost her her life)

    19. I overcame a back injury by avery.quirk (This teen learned suffered a back injury that will haunt him for the rest of his life)

    20. I overcame disappointment by cjsherman (This teen learned that life is not always fair)

    21. I Overcame… by khamian (This teen had to quit gymnastics because of a back injury)

    Challenges with Grandparents or Extended Family

    1. I Overcame the Distance by irtfaz (This writer’s family is in a volatile area of India)

    2. I Overcame Heart Break by maycock (This teen suffered the devastating loss of her grandfather)

    Challenges with Siblings

    1. I overcame my older brother by jdrelich1 (This teen is going to miss his older brother once he leaves for college)

    2. I Overcame My Sister’s Graduation From High School by snielsen2239 (This teen is going to miss her older sister when she leaves for college)




    Video - Recommended Young Adult Novels and Memoirs

    Being inspired by the above essays, we compiled a short list of books by national authors who write about real-world issues.  Consider some of these books the next time you're looking for a good read outside of class.



    Last Words:  We could not list all of the essays submitted for this contest, but we thank every student that participated in the StageofLife.com writing contest.  To enter the current Stage of Life monthly writing contest for high school students and college students...


    Stage of Life - Student Writing Contest Press Release

    StageofLife.com Reports School and Self-Image Are Top Challenges for Teens

    YORK, PA--(Marketwire - Jun 21, 2011) -  StageofLife.com, a free blog resource for teenagers and college students, asked the question, "What was the most difficult thing you overcame this school year?" as part of its monthly national writing contest.

    Over 6,000 students visited StageofLife.com's writing contest, with 1,400+ votes registered in the corresponding teen survey. Teens ranked the following issues as the greatest challenges during the 2010-2011 school year:

    School (bullying, teachers, homework, graduation): 27%
    Self-Image: 20%
    Parents: 16%
    Friends: 14%
    Boyfriend/Girlfriend: 8%
    Siblings: 4%
    Drugs and Alcohol: 2%
    Extended Family: 1%
    Other: 9%
    Hundreds of students submitted an essay about their personal obstacles. Topics dealt with break-ups, rape, psyche wards, a soldier's transition from combat to civilian life, losing a parent/friend, and more. From the submissions, five trends emerged about teen problems:

    1. School: By far, school was the #1 stressor for teens this year. Teens talked about AP courses, problems with grades, long-term projects, and high expectations they set for themselves -- and were afraid they couldn't reach.

    2. Self-Image: Teens struggled with confidence. Many of these stories boiled down to a similar moral: be yourself, love yourself, and most importantly, enjoy yourself.

    3. Sports: Many teens suffered sports related injuries and failures. While this had teens sitting on the bench, it did not have these teens settling with disappointment or failure -- these mishaps only inspired teens to try harder, and do better.

    4. Drugs/alcohol: The good news -- many teens did not write about struggling with drug or alcohol problems, which speaks positively of the Stage of Life community. Stage of Life strives to be a support system and community for all walks of life -- without the interference of nuisances like intoxicants.

    5. Positive: All teens wrote about viewing these struggles positively. If nothing else, these teens discovered that life is a learning experience; a journey, not a destination.

    A full summary of the writing contest, with a list of finalists and the winning essays, can be viewed at: http://www.stageoflife.com/Teen_Challenges.aspx

    StageofLife.com is a free blog for all generations. It hosts writing contests, printable coupons, coupon codes, and blog directories geared towards each stage of life. Other specialized content includes free lesson plans, life resources, videos, statistics, and more!

    SOURCE: StageofLife.com

    Writing Contest Archive - Students

    Past Writing Contests and Teen Trend Reports

    StageofLife.com Student Writing Contests

    Below you will find all of our past writing contests and teen trend reports from the last four years. Feel free to click through and read the top essay submissions from any given month.  StageofLife.com is honored to be one of the most-visited writing contests for students in the world.  We love working with teachers, teens, and college students as we celebrate the journey as life-long readers and writers...

    2014 Writing Contests

     Stage of Life Mission Statement

     2013 Writing Contests

    2012 Writing Contests

    2011 Writing Contests

     2010 Writing Contests

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    StageofLife.com is an education-based, grassroots, non-partisan, free blogging community with a mission support digital literacy by making the world a better place, one story, essay, and blog at a time.  Stage of Life users (teens, college students, Millennials, Gen Y, Gen X, and Baby Boomers) can share and archive their life stories via their Stage of Life profile page.  Specialized content includes literacy resources, free lesson plans, writing prompts for Language Arts teachers, monthly writing contests for high school students (and older generations), student blogging initiatives, blog directories, and financial literacy tools - including Life Rewards® - our free discount program for all Stage of Life users, readers and writers dedicated to providing printable coupons and coupon codes tailored towards each stage of life.

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