High School Students Competition

My Graduating Class Is Competitive To A Worrying Extent, And It Drives Us Away From Each Other

From GPAs to class rankings, we've defined who we are based on the numbers pinned to our names.

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Class rankings became available a few weeks ago, and the competition has become fiercer than ever before. I've noticed a sharper edge to the attitudes of some classmates of mine. And maybe it's my paranoia kicking in, but this change in demeanor is timed perfectly with the timeframe within which class rankings were released.

When I was in ninth grade, my AP Government teacher used to scold me for judging my worth on the numbers placed by my name. He used to tell me that 10 years from now, none of my worries about grades would matter. That I would be living a life that was determined by how well I utilized my experiences, not by how the numbers on my reports spoke of me.

Those words never fully sat with me until a few weeks ago when class rankings came out. I think the magnitude of his statement could not express itself beforehand because it hadn't been given the ability to do so, but at the first chance provided to dominate my concerns, it has. I'm concerned not for where I stand but for how others view themselves in comparison to myself and to their peers.

Several faces appear in my mind at the thought of the word "competition," from them mentioning their love for it to them dictating their friendships based on it. People choose their friends based on who they know they're better than. People don't talk to each other because they think they're smarter than one another. People think they are superior because the triple digits on their report cards say so.

They've plagued my thoughts, the worries I have about my own grades, but those nights I've spent fearing for the plunge my numbers are bound to take, my friends have also experienced. Yet the common feelings we share about our successes are what keep us walking on separate pathways in life.

My graduating class is competitive to a worrying extent, and it drives us away from each other.

My graduating class avoids friendship because even moral support is seen as betraying one's personal success.

My classmates don't look each other in the eyes because others can find weakness hidden inside.

My peers refrain from expressing emotions because numbers are all that define who they are.

My friends believe competition is what drives friendship because others' failures equate to their own rewards.

I have to apologize if what I say comes off as insensitive or merely blunt, but isn't there a truth to the sentiment? Isn't there some sort of understanding with the idea of confining oneself to a GPA, to an SAT score, to a test grade?

I have been pulled aside by a friend and told that they're on-board with the idea of having "friendly competition" but that I should be careful with what I do and say. Out-of-context, this can be used as a vindictive statement told by a classmate that I could be including just to support my own side. But even with context, the concept of a person I once considered a close friend telling me to watch my back is... painful to consider.

If the numbers on our academic records are so important, should we not be proud of each other for bringing these numbers higher? At least — if we can't stop ourselves from defining our values based on our grades — be genuinely happy for the success of our peers! These are the people we've associated ourselves with, and likewise, they've devoted their time to us. There must at least be some sort of community, some semblance of support that we can foster based on our true compassion for the graduating class's collective success.

It disappoints me that this is only possible in a utopian society because we've become clouded and consequently blinded by visions of overpowering the people around us. I like to trademark pieces by ending on a positive note, but the firmly-rooted feelings of animosity we've been conditioned to feel for each other prevent me from doing so.

It's come to the point where we've painted a future for ourselves in which our success comes not from the goals we conquer but from the dreams others can never reach.

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An Open Letter To My Unexpected Best Friend

You came out of nowhere and changed my life for the better.
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“It's so amazing when someone comes to your life and you expect nothing out of it, but suddenly, there right in front of you is everything you ever need."

-Unknown

Dear Unexpected Best Friend,

You were the person I never thought I would speak to and now you are my very best friend. You came out of nowhere and changed my life for the better. I can't thank you enough for everything you have done to shape me into the person I am today. You've taught me what it means to be selfless, caring, patient, and, more importantly, adventurous.

You don't realize how much better my life has become and all because you came out of nowhere. I didn't see you coming. I just saw you on occasion, and now I can't see my life without you in it. It's funny how life works itself out like that. Our unexpected friendship filled a hole in my life that I didn't know existed.

I don't even remember what life was like before you came along; it most likely had a lot less laughter and spontaneity than it does today. I can call you about anything and you would drop whatever you're doing to help me in any situation. You know when I need encouragement. You know when I am at my best and when I am at my worst. You always know exactly what to say.

SEE ALSO: 8 Tiny Lies Every Young Woman Has Told Their Best Friend

I couldn't have found a better friend than you if I tried. We balance each other out in the best way possible. You are most definitely the yin to my yang, and I don't care how cliché that sounds. Because of you, I've learned to stop caring what people think and to do my own thing regardless of any backlash I might receive. You are my very favorite part of what makes me who I am to this day.

It's as if I wished up a best friend, and poof — you appeared right in front of me. I am so beyond blessed to have you and I wouldn't trade the world for all our memories. Thanks for coming out of nowhere.

Love you forever and a day.

Cover Image Credit: Lauren Medders

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An Open Letter To The Friend Who Continues To Save My Life

No one knows me like you do.

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From the day we became friends, we have always had nothing but support for one another. Although we have only really been friends for about seven years now, I feel as if you have always been a part of my life. You know me just as well as you know yourself, and I understand you in the same way I understand my own thoughts and feelings.

You have never made me feel pressured, insecure, or unappreciated. The mutual respect we have for one another is unmatched. We can talk to each other about anything; from some of the most trivial topics to entire life philosophies. We have grown and matured together, and I couldn't be more proud of the person you are today.

We don't always agree on everything, and I always appreciate your fresh point of view, but I have never felt more in sync with another person than I do with you. We share the same birth month, the same age, the same home town, the same anxieties, and many of the same attitudes and values.

I feel as if you know exactly when I want to be alone and when I need company. Since we are both introverted, we understand that the other person needs time to recharge. And when I'm sitting alone with nothing to do, I always get a text from you asking to hang out.

In some of my loneliest, most vulnerable moments, you have been there. When I question how many true friends I really have, you are always sure to make your love for me known.

Through high school, and now college, we have experienced so many life-changing events together. Some that have taught us extremely valuable lessons, and others that have shown us incredible pain and how to grow from our lowest moments.

I want to thank you for showing me what life-long friendship looks like. Thank you for always understanding me and never putting too much pressure on me. I see an incredible future for both of us no matter where each of our lives takes us.

We will always share a unique connection that cannot be separated by any distance. But, for now, I'm glad you're only one text or phone call away.

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