Nothing but the best

Mill Stream Staff

Colleges, parents, and schools have high expectations for students. They expect perfection in all fields: academics, sports, extracurriculars, and more. Colleges put you up against others and then pick you apart, comparing every aspect of your life to others to determine your worth. Parents compare you to your siblings and their friends’ kids. Schools monitor your GPA and grades to determine your class ranking. Everything is a competition for students these days, and the stress can be exhausting. We are constantly striving to be the best in everything, trying to be perfect in order to live up to these high expectations. 

But nobody is perfect. 

We only have so many hours in the day to perfect our lives, but it’s not sustainable to be the best in all things, as there is always a trade-off. Students have to make so many sacrifices in so many aspects of their lives that other important areas end up paying the price. If we want to be good at sports, we have to give up study time to practice. If we want a good transcript, we must take harder classes and leave practice early to study. On top of this, we have our clubs, friends, and family to worry about. We want to live our lives while we are still together with our friends, before we have to be adults and take care of ourselves. Being in high school is supposed to be an experience straight out of the movies. But “The Breakfast Club,” “Sixteen Candles,” and “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” were not as accurate as we hoped. Instead of romance and adventure, we are stuck pulling our hair out over a math test, and staying up till 2 a.m. to complete homework after practice or rehearsal.

As we strive to live up to these expectations placed on us, we are forced to grow up much earlier than we want. This is the age we are supposed to be discovering ourselves as people and who we want to be, having fun and making lasting memories. We are so focused on our success, we aren’t getting the chance to learn and grow as a person. We have to make adult decisions before we are ready, and don’t get the time to learn from our childish mistakes. The pressure placed on us is forcing us to grow up early.

Students’ mental health is heavily impacted by these expectations. It can’t be good for anybody to try to do everything at once. After a while, it starts to weigh you down. The sports and classes you once loved begin to feel like a burden as burn-out settles in. We get frustrated, overwhelmed and exhausted like everyone else, but it seems like we don’t have time to recover or rest. We’re constantly juggling everything at once, and we don’t have the energy to add some time to take care of ourselves, leading to breakdowns, panic, and more stress than any of us know what to do with. We just want to have fun and be kids while we still can, and want others to understand that we simply can’t be perfect. Expecting too much is making everything worse.