Perfection spurred by expectations

Ysabelle Punzal, Staff Reporter

All A’s, varsity captain of the soccer team, student council president, and lead in the school play. This seemingly perfect life has its ups and downs. From dealing with mental stresses to feeling pressured to be the best, these [so-called overachievers/high achievers] have a lot on their plate.
Feeling like they need to be the best, many feel pressured by their parents to achieve greatness and success.

“Both of my parents were pretty high achieving,” sophomore Catie Donohue said. “I know my mom did a ton of stuff when she was my age and she’s constantly encouraging me to apply for internships and do really well on tests and n school in general. In a way, I almost want to impress her because she has super high standards.”

Similarly, senior Martin Pollack has large shoes to fill.

“[I experience familiar pressure] from my mom,” Pollack said. “She went to a small liberal arts college as an undergrad and Princeton as a grad. She says she’s not pushing me to go to that college, but she really is, and it’s really competitive.”

Alongside pressure from parents to do well, competition and perfection seem to be some of the main factors for their strong work ethics.

“I think I am naturally competitive, and that competitive drive is what makes me want to do so well in school,” junior Ryan Iki said. “I spend a lot of time on what I do and can get really, really, really worked up over something even if there’s a little mistake, and if I know something is not my best work, I’ll obsess over it and not do other things that might be more beneficial in terms of health.”

Pollack finds also finds that competition is essential to reach greatness.

“I am extremely competitive in everything I do,” Pollack said. “I have a strong desire to be the best at everything I do. When someone does better than me, I get a little bit bitter. I wanna be the best and so being perfect makes you the best.”

With competition driving them to be the best, college is one more thing to add to their long list of pressures.

“One of my biggest goals is to get into a good college,” freshman Logan Chin said. “Looking at the statistics and scores and average GPAs of students who get accepted into like Stanford or Ivy League schools motivates me to work hard.”

Iki shares that same goal.

“I have a drive to get into a really good college,” Iki said. “Being accepted into college is all about how you compare to other applicants. So again, it’s a really competitive system.”

Iki feels frustrated at times when thinking about how teachers and universities might perceive her and her work ethic. With high standards and expectations to be met, it is no surprise that one feels overwhelmed, and stressed out.

“I definitely think there is a lot of pressure to meet expectations and as much as I like to tell myself that I don’t care what other people might think, I definitely do and that can be kinda hard,” Iki said. “The expectations are challenging to deal with sometimes because it makes me feel uncomfortable, and that I can’t tell people when I’m worried about something or stressed out. It can be very restrictive.”

Mental, physical and emotional stresses come into play greatly when one does so much and experiences such weighing pressures.

“Most of the time, I feel stressed out and overwhelmed,” Pollack said. “I feel really great for a little bit, but then I think that I can always do more. Sleep is hard. Social life is a little harder; there definitely is stress. Senioritis is definitely kicking in.”

Having little time to relax, Pollack utilizes music to relax.

Likewise, Iki deals with a lack of sleep and frequently stresses over academics.

“I’m always tired. I probably average 4-5 hours of sleep a night,” Iki said. “While I do get really stressed out about assignments and really worked up, I spend a lot of time with my friends and like going out and still try to enjoy myself. That’s a major stress reliever of mine and if I didn’t have that it would be a lot harder and I would have no way to relax.”