The Pressure of Perfection

I found this article to be extremely insightful and, unfortunately, somewhat familiar. Although I did not go to an elite high school or university, I noticed many of these same behaviors in the students at my schools. Notably, I noticed these behaviors in myself. I am a perfectionist, riddled with anxiety. I have gotten three B’s as final grades, and I felt like a failure each time. In my AP classes, many of my peers exhibited the same types of behaviors. A close friend of mine, our high school valedictorian, ended up attending the same university as me. I always measured my success based on I stacked-up next to her, until I realized that by junior year of college, I was still making A’s, and she was now making C’s and D’s. Before this, she had never even made a single B. The stress of her “failure’ continued to gnaw at her, until she failed a class and had a mental breakdown. As a result, she withdrew from college and went back home, to parents who were not very forgiving. At the time, I was shocked, but I should not have been because we all saw it coming. I did not necessarily know that it would be her, but I knew that one of us, those group of top students from high school, would end up succumbing to the pressure.

I do not want this for my students. I understand that as I teacher, I will be an important force in my students’ lives, particularly in their academic lives. The grades that I assign will, in a large part, shape my students’ view of themselves. It is my job not to let this happen. I must work to reassure my students that they are so much more than just their GPA, their ACT score, their class rank, their average in my class. While I believe that school is important, I know that it is not everything. It is my job to indicate this to my students, particularly those students who do not receive this same type of reinforcement at home. In addition to this, it is imperative that I recognize these behaviors in my students and get them the help that they need before it’s too late.