The social dynamics of high school have never been simple. No matter who you are, or when you went to high school, there have always been more than enough things to make a person incredibly self conscious. From your looks to your actions, a high school setting is basically brimming with people who are ready to pick you apart—including yourself.
And in addition to the classic troupe of 80’s pop culture—where the academically inclined “losers” vie for acceptance from the pretty, cool athletes who rule the school—you’ve probably dealt with the intense academic competition if you graduated from high school within the last 10 years or so. There’s a pervading pressure to be “the whole package,” a sporty, attractive, straight-A genius, both to earn respect from peers and teachers and to gain admittance to the most prestigious colleges.
Obviously, such high expectations yield a lot of pressure, and a lot of pressure can break a person, particularly a developing, teenage, high school-person.
The competition can be crushing. And besides feeling an incredible internal drive to be the best, you’re probably even more annoyed by the endless competitive talk among your peers. Privacy is not a commodity in high school, and there are really no secrets amongst your classmates.
Conversations are frequently dominated by talk of test scores, grade points and leadership accomplishments. Everyone and their mother (literally) want to size you up by the numbers.
And though impressive stats are certainly no small feat, every day I’m astonished by how all the data that seemed to define my classmates in high school has thus far turned out to be a very poor indicator of success. At the time, it seemed like being an academically well-rounded individual was the holy grail. But ultimately, high scores in all sections of the SAT won’t carry you far in life—only a legitimate passion can do that.
I know, that sounds so cheesy. And I know that you’ve heard it before. Passion is a pretty prominent buzzword when it comes to the college game. But the passion that I’m referring to doesn’t have to be a great love from the day one, nor should it be. All passion starts as an interest, which is carefully and painstakingly developed over a long period of time.
So don’t stress too much and don’t waste your time comparing yourself, your grades or your resume to those around you, but simply strive to be the best version of yourself that you can be. Though high test scores and grade points will look great on your college application, they won’t carry you far in life. Instead, learn, live and actively involve yourself in the world around you. Your actions in the real world will comprise a much more essential piece of your identity, and earn you much more, than any standardized test ever could.