Did you know that Stephen, Sara, and Mike got perfect scores on their ACTs? And Nora and Jimmy achieved 1600s on their SATs? Have you heard that the girls’ gymnastics team qualified for state because two girls earned perfect scores on vault and beam at regionals? How about that Tommy is ranked first in the state for boys’ track? And that our football team won state again for the third time in a row? Or that Mia got accepted into a prestigious art program for her breathtaking drawings?
High schools’ hallways are filled with a constant hum – almost as if high voltage electricity is being run through it. Murmurs of so-and-so’s recent accomplishments rapidly fly from ear to ear at electron speed. Hair stands on end. Sparks of jealousy and anxiety begin to fly, shocking those who stand too close to the generator of perfection. What was once a hum has now turned to a roar of screams and tears and panic attacks. Some people would call this a perfection craze among students, but it’s more like perfection hysteria.
I can’t go a day in high school without hearing about the astounding feats of my peers. It has gotten to the point where students are completely obsessed with perfection. For example, there are students who study countless hours and pay outrageous amounts of money for private tutors just to have a 36 printed on their college applications. Even more alarming, some athletes believe that in order to achieve maximum performance in their sports, they can only improve their bodies by drinking or eating nothing but water. Jealousy of others’ achievements is now becoming a problem, causing a lot of friendships to crumble. Anxiety is running rampant. Because of the urge to be perfect, there is a universal fear of not being good enough for college. Every day, there is at least one student who succumbs to a panic attack about not getting into college or getting 100% on a test. People need to calm down. Getting one wrong answer on a test isn’t the end of your life.
What is causing this mass hysteria? In my opinion, I think society is pushing students towards this. Outstanding musicians, artists, athletes, etc. who also get good grades are always put under a spotlight and showcased to the world as the ideal student. They are favored unconditionally. Other students see this and believe that they must match it. But not everyone is a prodigy! Everyone has their own abilities and talents, and forcing students to match a prodigy is downright cruel. It takes away from enjoying their hobbies and interests and replaces it with stress. What’s the point in playing tennis at your school just to get ignored for not being the best player and being filled with pressure to play better? What happened to just having a fun time? Even worse, school has lost its main point. No longer are students there to discover new things and improve themselves; instead, they are just there to get good grades. There is zero emphasis on learning. It’s all about memorizing things to get an A so you can get into college.
I think it’s time for us all to pause and take a deep breath, to close our eyes and tell ourselves that everything will be alright. You will get into college. You will find a nice job and get married and buy a house, and reach your goals (if that’s what you want). It just takes a little time. Stressing out about things in the far future just takes away from the life you should be living now. Have a little fun and do things you enjoy. Don’t get so caught up in reaching unattainable perfection when imperfection will get the job done.