First Isn’t the Worst (But Second, Third, and Fourth Aren’t Bad Either)

As college application deadlines draw ever closer and seniors all around Malden High School begin the most intense session of cramming that their educational careers have ever seen, I’ve noticed a particularly troubling social trend amongst my peers; the stress and anxiety surrounding being the “best.”

Alright I’m no star student myself, but I like to think that I did the best I could with what I had, and for me that’s enough. Problem is, this doesn’t seem to be the case with a lot of my peers. The base struggles encountered in high school, academic and otherwise, are enough to induce stress-comas in the average student, never mind the added bonus of trying to match up to preferred colleges’ expectations. I’ve heard so many cries of woe and terror regarding the application process, with many stressing out over the simple fact that they aren’t on top. Most people can’t have perfect Grade Point Averages, juggle three sports, play an instrument, and take action in student government.

There are some who can, in which case, bravo to them, they’re flourishing where most cannot. The problem isn’t that there exist people who are on top, (because there will always be those who are one step ahead of you) the problem is the stigma that unless you’re in first, you’re a failure. It’s simply not true.

I’m not completely sure where this stigma comes from, whether it’s cultured by the standards of a lot of colleges, the strict nature of some parental figures, or simply the competitive progression of a student through their ranks. Either way, there are too many out there having anxiety attacks over expectations put on them coming from all facets of their lives, and not enough that are just content with doing the best they can.

Now I’m not saying it isn’t good to challenge yourself or aspire to become greater than those before you: this is perfectly fine. It is however damaging and unhealthy to have dreams of such grandeur, stumble along the way, and allow the pressure of said stumbling to crack an individual. For some life just comes easy, whether they have natural skills needed for the working word or they come from higher privilege than others, and that’s okay, we can’t all be completely equal.

The sad fact is that life is never fair, and it never will be, and unfortunately as of 2015, no matter how hard some work, they just won’t be able to achieve all of their dreams.

Some of us do make it. We come from nothing, and we end up with everything. The sad case is that for most people that just isn’t going to happen. I can dream of a summer house in Beverly Hills all I want, and take all the opportunities I get, but unless I catch a good break and the odds are in my favor, it probably isn’t going to happen, and that’s okay.

I’m okay with not being the perfect student, I’m okay with doing the best I can with what I have, and I’m okay with the fact that some people will always be better than me. Maybe that isn’t good enough for some people, but maybe it should be. It’s good to aspire to be the best in the world, but it isn’t the end of the world if it doesn’t end up happening.

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