It Isn't Worth Being That Perfect Pick For College When You Are Losing Your Individuality

It Isn't Worth Being That Perfect Pick For College When You Are Losing Your Individuality

This year has been more than an emotional roller coaster; it's been eternal hell.
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Work harder. Push yourself. What, that's it? Wow, you literally can't do anything. You're useless, you got a 91 on that math quiz. Look at that kid taking 10 APs, while you are here taking just two APs. You'll never make it to college. You're a failure.

I regret every day of this school year.

This year has been more than an emotional rollercoaster; it's been eternal hell. And I'm only a freshman in high school. It shouldn't be like this. Right? But, why is it that I feel this way? And almost every freshman I know has shared similar feelings with me.

The worst part is, even though I worked my hardest and accomplished all this — maintained straight A's, completed two igeAPs, made my school's IGEM team, semi-finaled in two national debate tournaments, became sophomore president, was in String Orchestra, ran track and won at SLC for HOSA — it feels like I have done absolutely nothing, that I have wasted every day of school year.

I feel empty.

I was on a hamster wheel, running, running, getting exhausted, but I continued to run and got no where. Because, that's what I thought successful people did. They worked their butts off until they succeeded. They would not accept anything below their goals. And they were able to sacrifice everything to achieve anything. But these are lies. Lies. Plain bold lies.

This is not what successful people do. This is what stupid people do. And tell me I'm wrong. Being valedictorian is no longer about who worked the hardest and got academic success; it's about whose family is wealthier and can afford to pay for those online classes. I can tell you lists of people that are smart and talented but they are always undermined by the "finessers."

I vividly remember talking to the recent graduating class, and they all told me the same thing, "High school is a lot of fun." But, is it really? When the trend is to take more APs, you beg your parents to pay for more APs. And I'm not saying more APs is wrong. But, some point, we're all going to snap and burn-out. No one can survive off of two to three hours of sleep everyday as high school freshman.

Imagine the years to come. Is it really worth sacrificing our health for our class rank?

SEE ALSO: School Vending Machines Are An Analogy For My Teen Life

And because of the lack of collaboration and an increase in competition, people like me live in anxiety everyday confused about what to do. Do I take more APs so I don't fall behind everyone and sacrifice my extracurriculars and my passions? Or, do I focus on what I want to do and fall behind?

And at this point, it's becoming no longer a high school but a survival show where everyone has the mindset, that there is only one winner.

And it's not the school that caused this. This is student lead. Each student isn't pushing themselves because they want to learn but because they want to get into a good college. They do this out of fear, not passion. And that's crucial because it ruins the purpose of taking advance placement classes.

Taking online APs is a lot easier than taking it in class. It's easier to "finesse" the system. When one student takes an AP online, this causes 10 other kids to take two APs online. Then 10 more kids taking three APs. It causes a snowball effect, and it destroys collaboration. It dramatically increases pressure levels.

It's no longer, "I will be the best I will become," but more about "I have to become better than that other kid."

The worst part is... is this what really colleges want? By the time the class of 2021 graduates, the average GPA would be above 4.0, guaranteed. But, all this hard work, will it lead to nothing? In the next three years, will we become so caught up on taking APs and competing in stuff for the sake of college that we will lose our individuality? I want to try photography, and I truly think I'll enjoy it. But, I'll never get to do it. Because...

A) I don't have enough time, and...

B) I will be wasting time and could be do something more "valuable."

If you look in the dictionary, the definition of valuable is "a thing of great worth." Is it of value that you lose your individuality to become a better "competitor?" Is it worth that you risk your health and social life to take more APs? More importantly, do you wanna win that competition for that college application or for yourself?

I'm going to get huge backlash and every try-hard kid is going to hate me. I'm not telling to not to your achieve your goals. But find value in why you want to achieve that goal.

SEE ALSO: Stop Calling Me A Try-Hard When My Parents Have Sacrificed So Much For My Success

By taking this AP or entering that competition, how will this help you grow as a person or make you happy? Work hard for yourself, not for your resume. In fact, if we continue to work for college, and not for us, this toxic environment will make us into homogenous people. We'll all be AP snakes that are so-called "perfect" for colleges.

This problem didn't come from the school system or parents. But it comes increasingly from the students themselves. Teachers and my family have warned me to find balance. To love what you do until you can do what you love. Be a smart and humble competitor.

Because I was blindfolded, I now feel lost. I've wasted an entire year doing things people expected me to do and few things I actually wanted to do. I've lost so many opportunities because I didn't simply have time. And if freshman year is this bad, imagine junior year.

This is a message for individuals like me. Don't worry. All is well. Don't follow of what others expect of you, but do what you want to do.

Love what you do so much, that you don't feel irritated.

By the time we graduate, the number game will be over. It will be who is the best individual. Our generation is going towards quantity over quality, and that's going to lead to our failure. Mass production of defective machines is no better.

I know nothing may change after this article. But I can change me and the perspective I have of high school. I'm not going to live in this eternal hell where I'm forced to do stuff for the sake of a good college. Because if anything...

"No one has ever changed the world by doing what the world has told them to do." — Eddy Zhong
Cover Image Credit: Srikusumanjali Pinamareddy

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To All The Nurses In The Making

We tell ourselves that one day it'll all pay off, but will it actually?
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I bet you’re taking a break from studying right now just to read this, aren’t you? Either at the library with friends or in your dorm room. Wherever you may be, you never get the chance to put your books down, at least that’s how it feels to most of us. It sucks feeling like you’ve chosen the hardest major in the world, especially when you see other students barely spending any time studying or doing school work. The exclamation “You’re still here!” is an all too frequent expression from fellow students after recognizing that you’ve spent 10-plus hours in the library. At first it didn’t seem so bad and you told yourself, “This isn’t so difficult, I can handle it,” but fast-forward a few months and you’re questioning if this is really what you want to do with your life.

You can’t keep track of the amount of mental breakdowns you’ve had, how much coffee you’ve consumed, or how many times you’ve called your mom to tell her that you’re dropping out. Nursing is no joke. Half the time it makes you want to go back and change your major, and the other half reminds you why you want to do this, and that is what gets you through it. The thing about being a nursing major is that despite all the difficult exams, labs and overwhelming hours of studying you do, you know that someday you might be the reason someone lives, and you can’t give up on that purpose. We all have our own reasons why we chose nursing -- everyone in your family is a nurse, it’s something you’ve always wanted to do, you’re good at it, or like me, you want to give back to what was given to you. Regardless of what your reasoning is, we all take the same classes, deal with the same professors, and we all have our moments.

I’ve found that groups of students in the same nursing program are like a big family who are unconditionally supportive of each other and offer advice when it’s needed the most. We think that every other college student around us has it so easy, but we know that is not necessarily true. Every major can prove difficult; we’re just a little harder on ourselves. Whenever you feel overwhelmed with your school work and you want to give up, give yourself a minute to imagine where you’ll be in five years -- somewhere in a hospital, taking vitals, and explaining to a patient that everything will be OK. Everything will be worth what we are going through to get to that exact moment.

Remember that the stress and worry about not getting at least a B+ on your anatomy exam is just a small blip of time in our journey; the hours and dedication suck, and it’s those moments that weed us out. Even our advisors tell us that it’s not easy, and they remind us to come up with a back-up plan. Well, I say that if you truly want to be a nurse one day, you must put in your dedication and hard work, study your ass off, stay organized, and you WILL become the nurse you’ve always wanted to be. Don’t let someone discourage you when they relent about how hard nursing is. Take it as motivation to show them that yeah, it is hard, but you know what, I made it through.

With everything you do, give 110 percent and never give up on yourself. If nursing is something that you can see yourself doing for the rest of your life, stick with it and remember the lives you will be impacting someday.

SEE ALSO: Why Nursing School Is Different Than Any Other Major

Cover Image Credit: Kaylee O'Neal

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12 Lessons Being The 'Sick Kid' Has Taught Me

It can be pretty awful at times, but the life lessons you learn are invaluable.

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Every school has that one person who looks completely fine, but suddenly misses 3 weeks in the middle of the semester because they've come down with some weird illness. Or maybe they were suddenly diagnosed with a new autoimmune disorder... Every. Single. Semester. Then they suddenly come back, maybe looking a little worse for wear, pushing through finals week only to spend the summer getting better.

It's definitely an interesting process for the people around them, but it's miserable for the person going through it. Your social life comes crashing down, some days you're in just too much pain to move, and yet you're expected to move through all of it so that you look "normal" to everyone around you. One or two of these episodes or illnesses may not be too bad, but once you've hit five or more, it goes from "wow this sucks" to "why does my body hate me so much? I've done absolutely nothing to cause this."

That being said, I wouldn't change my experiences with my health for the world. Sure, at least two of my health conditions could kill me if I wasn't careful and a third one causes absolutely horrific pain every now and again, but the lessons I've learned by being the"sick kid" have made me a better person.

1. No matter what a person looks like, they may be struggling—and being there to support them is vital

An Invisible disability can be anything from a food allergy to cancer, but as a general rule you would never be able to tell that they had health issues by just looking at them. Offering your support to those around you, even your acquaintances, can make a world of difference.

2. Pain is not a laughing matter

For the average person, pain fades quickly and doesn't occur too regularly; this means that when your friend is complaining about something like an upset stomach or a headache, you just tell them to take some ibuprofen and move on with your day. I was the exact same way until I was diagnosed with complex regional pain syndrome, a rare nerve disorder where the pain exceeds childbirth according to the McGill University Pain Scale. Acknowledging that pain is real and important, regardless of its severity, is incredibly important to anyone hurting.

3. The smartest kid in the room may still need help with their academics

I've always excelled in school, so you would never guess that my grades tend to slip whenever I'm stressed, sick, or in pain. When a friendly acquaintance who sat in front of me in ethics took notes for me a week that I was sick, it truly helped more than anyone could have imagined. Even if someone doesn't look like they need it, offering them more resources will never hurt.

4. Fear isn't always rational, and that's okay

I've used needles for for my medical care. I have blood work every three months, poke myself with a big needle every seven days, and poke myself with a pretty small one every three. Thing is, after 18 years, I still almost pass out every time I see a needle coming my direction. So your fear of cats may be completely irrational, but so is my fear of needles—and that is completely fine.

5. Don't ever compare your struggles

I've been told more than once that I have too many diagnoses for someone who's only 21. I've been told by doctors that I've been dealt a bad hand, by nurses that they didn't usually see a medical list as long as mine at my age, by medical assistants that my medication list is complex... but I don't have cancer, right? I can still walk, too, so I shouldn't be complaining. Thing is, two problems can exist at once. My friend's sadness over her botched haircut is as equally valid as me crying over a new diagnosis. And that's okay.

6. What's easy for me may be hard for someone else

I can walk most of the times. I can hear very clearly. Unfortunately, I cannot regulate my body temperature very well. That's easy for most people, but I need to take extra precautions in certain weather conditions because of this. Just like I have problems with something that people tend to consider simple, other people may struggle with reading, gardening, or playing certain video games. Rather than getting frustrated, it's better to offer them help and understand that it may take them a little longer.

7. Just listening can go a long way

Let's be honest here: unless you've lived through it, you'll never understand it. This goes for anything. Rather than talking about you're grandmother's second-cousin's uncle's step-son who herded cattle and went through something vaguely similar, just letting the person know you're there can work wonders. If you feel as if the problem is too much for you an your friend to tackle alone, suggesting classroom accommodations, mental health specialists, nonprofit support groups, or even Facebook groups can help show that you're listening and invested in their well being.

8. Ask before touching

Physical touch can be very painful for me some days. As much as I would love to hug you and congratulate you on your promotion, I need to watch out for my health and safety. I don't know what someone's been through, if they may have any medical implants that hurt when I press on them, or if they may have allodynia; even if I've been friends with them for years, asking if I can touch them is a way to avoid hurting both them and our friendship.

9. The smallest actions make the biggest impacts

When I'm stuck in bed, at another specialist's office, or waiting to hear back about imaging, getting a silly little GIF or a phone call from a friend makes all the difference in the world. It can make me smile while crying, get me engaged when I'm otherwise horribly upset, and remind me that someone's thinking about me when I feel otherwise alone. By taking 30 seconds out of my day to touch in with those I care about, I can help them feel loved as well.

10. Not everyone is going to be understanding or helpful—but I should always be

Ever since middle school, I've personally faced incidences where doctors, teachers, and peers have shrugged off my health concerns. Even when I had a doctor's note stating that I needed to be on bed rest for several weeks after surgery, many of the people around me were unwilling to acknowledge that I needed help or even that the bed rest was necessary. Even if I don't necessarily understand the circumstances, offering a helping hand is the right thing to do in any circumstance.

11. The "real world" WILL help you

In high school, my teachers would always say that the "real world" wouldn't help you if you couldn't keep up. Well, surprise, it did. The real world is more strict with deadlines, but there are also more people willing to offer you their support if you're looking in the right spots. When people have a shared goal, they won't let you fall behind.

12. You can never hold me (or anyone else) back just because I'm "disabled"

I will succeed in life, no matter what. It may take a little bit more time and energy to get things done, but I can make it through as long as I keep moving.

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