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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A Love Letter To The Girl Who Cares Too Much About Everyone But Herself

You, the girl with a heart full of love and no place big enough to store it all.

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Our generation is so caught up in this notion that it's "cool" not to care about anything or anyone. I know you've tried to do just that.

I'm sure there was a brief moment where you genuinely believed you were capable of not caring, especially since you convinced everyone around you that you didn't. But that just isn't true, is it? Don't be ashamed of this, don't let anyone ridicule you for having emotions.

After everything life has put you through, you have still remained soft.

This is what makes you, you. This is what makes you beautiful. You care so deeply and love so boldly and it is incredible, never let the world take this from you.

Have Your Voice Heard: Become an Odyssey Creator

You are the girl who will give and give and give until you have absolutely nothing left. Some may see this as a weakness, an inconvenience, the perfect excuse to walk all over you. I know you try to make sense of it all, why someone you cared so much about would treat you the way they did.

You'll make excuses for them, rationalize it and turn it all around on yourself.

You'll tell yourself that maybe just maybe they will change even though you know deep down they won't. You gave them everything you had and it still feels as if they took it all and ran. When this happens, remind yourself that you are not a reflection of those who cannot love you. The way that people treat you does not define who you are. Tell yourself this every day, over and over until it sticks. Remind yourself that you are gold, darling, and sometimes they will prefer silver and that is OK.

I know you feel guilty when you have to say no to something, I know you feel like you are letting everyone you love down when you do. Listen to me, it is not your responsibility to tend to everyone else's feelings all the time. By all means, treat their feelings with care, but remember it is not the end of the world when you cannot help them right away.

Remember that it is OK to say no.

You don't have to take care of everyone else all the time. Sometimes it's OK to say no to lunch with your friends and just stay home in bed to watch Netflix when you need a minute for yourself. I know sometimes this is much easier said than done because you are worried about letting other people down, but please give it a try.

With all of this, please remember that you matter. Do not be afraid to take a step back and focus on yourself. You owe yourself the same kind of love and patience and kindness and everything that you have given everyone else. It is OK to think about and put yourself first. Do not feel guilty for taking care of yourself. You are so incredibly loved even when it doesn't feel like it, please always remember that. You cannot fill others up when your own cup is empty. Take care of yourself.

Cover Image Credit: Charcoal Alley

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Fiction On Odyssey: Silencing Myself

I'll never forget what I yelled that finally put the voices to rest.

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How I got here is not the question. The question is, why is this happening to me? If only I didn't trip, things might have been different. If only he didn't break my heart. If only I had been enough. I might have made it out with a chance of a happy life.

The cuts, they burn. Why would they hurt me like this? The voices get louder as they come closer over the hill. I was always there for them.

I can see a house. It does not matter who lives there. All that matters is I was steps away from help until I lost my footing and control.

The voices wrapped around me.

That's when everything fell apart for the last time.

...

October was the month that changed my life forever. I was forced to move to a new school. Things did not go well at my last one. Things changed after the breakup. I changed.

I tend to not handle things in an ordinary manner. A little thing to others is the end of the world for me. I left my last school, because of a break up with a boy. Silly, I know, but I just had to leave. Sometimes, I like the way I handle situations. My anxiety makes it easy for me to move on because I know it is my body's way of telling me that the past situation is too bad to hold onto.

This time was different though. My anxiety took a dark turn. I felt like I never really came back.

I couldn't sleep or eat for weeks. My parents were worried about my health, but I did not care. That was the scary part. I did not care what happened to me. Nothing mattered. I wanted to die.

I knew I could live without him, but this voice in my head said otherwise; they were so persuasive too. They'd say, "He is gone", "He didn't want you", "You don't matter", "Nothing matters" over and over until I couldn't breathe.

I feel like someone took me out of my body and replaced me with a crazy person; a crazy person who is eating me from the inside out. That's when I told my mom and the doctor appointments started.

Walking into the doctor's office made me sick every time. The way the receptionist would smile and ask how I am doing. I always forced a smile and would say "I'm fine, or "I'm good". Saying these words felt like chewing rocks. Good? I wish. It is like these people forgot where they work.

The doctor is even worse; going from patient to patient. He puts a face on like he cares but I see right through it. Why would he care? He prescribes me medicine, I lie and promise I'll take it. Every appointment is the same. He sends me off and tells me to have a good day. I laugh to myself. Good day. As if he never read my file. As if he forgot my file says unstable. As if I matter.

I meant to take my medicine, I really did, but something inside of me told me not to. The lingering fear from the past panic assured me not to take it; that it would hurt me.

The best medicine was time. Although time helped with the anxiety and the breakup, there was one thing that it did not get rid of. The one thing that forever lingered in my head. The crazy person still lived within me. No matter what I did, I could not shake her.

I walked through life like a zombie. So calm on the outside, yet freaking out internally. This crazy person, she made me do awful things as if she hated me. But she was me, wasn't she?

Having to go to a new school did not make things better. I had no friends, so I was alone with myself. It's an awful feeling, feeling like you mean nothing. Being alone with myself was a scary place to be. A place you could not escape from, no matter how fast you run and believe me, I tried.

One day, my last day as that person, was unusually awful. I woke up with my mind racing. Voices telling me there is no point and that I don't matter; that my life ends today. They were wrong, weren't they?

I got up just like the doctors told me to do. They always told me to try and get up out of bed and start my day; that will help with the anxiety. So I did. The day went on and the deadly thoughts doubled. I had to get out of the house. I felt trapped.

I left without saying anything to anyone. I'd be back soon or so I thought. I started walking over the grassy hills behind my house, towards nowhere specific.

That walk turned into a jog. The jog turned into a run. Before I knew it, I was in a dead sprint, with my hands gripping my head. "This was the way", I thought to myself. "This was the way to get rid of them; the voices". But the faster I ran the louder they got; louder and louder.

They got so loud I began screaming at them to go away. I gripped my head so tight, my nails digging into my skull. Tugging at my hair; that's when I lost my footing.

Blood trickling down my forehead. I looked up from the grass and saw a house. I knew if I got to the house someone could help me; stop the bleeding. Maybe a new place would make the voices go away for a little while. If only I could get there before the voices get louder and the blood from my head pours out faster.

The crazy person inside me continued to yell horrible things and for the first time, I yelled back. I yelled so loud, that all the voices in my head stopped. I could feel them staring at me in shock. For once in a long time, I heard silence. I could hear myself, my real self-think clearly. I'll never forget what I yelled that finally put the voices to rest. "I matter too".

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