Smart Kid Syndrome
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Student Life

Smart Kid Syndrome

The descent into mediocrity

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Smart Kid Syndrome
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An epidemic is sweeping the nation: anxiety.

Students’ anxiety levels are at an all time high. This stress is especially prevalent in students in the top tier of academic standings. The pressure they put on themselves and the importance they put on their grades leads to an over-emphasis on academics and an eventual increase in disappointment and anxiety. They grapple with miniscule mistakes and mediocre grades in an impossible quest to achieve academic perfection.

For those who showed a high intellect at a young age, they are constantly defined by their intelligence. They are kept to a high standard by their family, friends, and, most importantly, themselves. They feel the need to reach the top and stay there.

Mediocrity is seen as a failure.

However, as these students expand their horizons and are introduced to a widely intelligent peer group, mediocrity often seems inevitable. This descent into average-ness leads to disappointment and a decrease in self-worth.

The life of a “smart kid” comes with the constant pressure to be perfect.

The Beginning

It all starts out the same: an interest in reading, an aptitude for math, and comprehension skills of a tenth grader at age nine. Instantly, you are labeled as a “smart kid.” School is a breeze. In fact, you enjoy learning. You can recite your times tables at the drop of a hat, and your nose is constantly buried in a book.

Your family always dotes on your intellect at parties. They tell friends about your straight A’s and your spelling bee trophy. You simply shrug it off. It’s natural. You take your intelligence for granted.

That is, of course, until it is not enough.

First, you realize you are not the smartest.

This occurred to me in high school. I was never the smartest in my grade school by any means but was certainly in the top tier and one of the smartest girls. Then, after entering an all-girls high school, I was surrounded by a plethora of exceedingly intelligent women.

Suddenly, your intelligence seems inferior to everyone around you. What you once thought was a high intelligence seems completely menial now.

Then, you start to struggle.

You have never had to study. Well, you have never had to study especially hard. You learned, you retained, and you tested well. That’s how it always went. Now, not so much.

You find yourself grappling with any and every test. You curse whoever made exams so taxing.

Slowly, your grades are slipping. You try to pick the pieces up and work harder than ever; but sometimes it’s just not enough.

After, you beat yourself up over your imperfect grades.

It typically starts with your parents. They are only trying to help. They ask you what’s wrong. You have never struggled in school. Obviously, something’s wrong.

So, you start to think that something is wrong. But, because it is not some outside force, it must be you.

It’s all your fault that you are not doing as well in school as you used to. You probably did not study hard enough or pay enough attention in class. You should be doing better. You should be better.

Then, you start to question yourself.

You were always the smart kid. The one whose report card your parents would put on the fridge. The one whose straight A’s came as a given. And now, you are not that kid.

Your entire identity seems stripped away at its core. If you are not the smart kid, who are you?

The Solution

This dilemma happens to many students all over the country. Their self-worth is stripped away by a few mediocre grades and some abnormally high expectations. But, how do we stop this? How can we lessen the anxiety and extreme pressure students put on themselves? Do we stop praising them as children? Stop telling them we are proud of them? Maybe we should challenge them more when they are younger. That way, challenges are constant and they are not faced with an onset of disappointment and anxiety in later years.

Truthfully, the only way we can help students who suffer from school-related anxiety is support. They need constant support. From a young age, they must be taught that they are loved and supported no matter how well they do in school.

Self-worth is not determined by high marks.

A B minus is not the end of the world.

You are not, nor will you ever be, mediocre.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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