Perfectionism creates more academic pressure
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Another shiny gold star.
A symbol of a job well done, at the corner of every page of an overachiever. While the title of an overachiever is well known, the force driving these individuals is not as well known.
Together, a clear goal and motivation can result in overachievement. However, some goals, motivations and even outcomes can be negative.
“Overachievers generally have impressive resumes because they overextend themselves and do not know how to succeed without overachieving,” said Bridgett Ross, PsyD, in the “Plague of the Overachiever,” an article published on Ross’s website.
For many, overachieving is the norm. Many students with overachieving parents feel the need to live up to expectation or to prove themselves to their parents or siblings.
Edward and Joshua Vendrow, juniors, are the sons of valedictorians and the brothers of Carlmont Class of 2016’s valedictorian. There is some level of expectancy that they too will be valedictorians of their graduating class, as stated by those who know them personally.
Pressure from both themselves and their surroundings often lead to a want to overachieve. External pressure often ranges from parents and friends to school and even society as a whole. Many students feel pressure from all these sources simultaneously along with the pressures placed on themselves based on their own standards and expectations.
As you look back on your childhood, academics present less and less of a challenge with overachievement coming easily. High expectations are formed that many students find harder and harder to meet as they near graduation and college.
Sophomore Kaylie Moropolous said, “[The pressure] comes from the expectation year after year that you’ll always be able to continue at the same or greater level of excellence even though the environment is much more difficult.”
Overachievers often fear letting themselves and others down can sometimes develop an unhealthy compulsion to show they are worthy.
However, pressure is not the only factor driving overachievers to hyper success.
One of the most common traits of an overachiever is perfectionism. Overachievers through all grades agree that they are perfectionists.
Emily Wong, a senior, said, “I have gotten a lot more relaxed about [perfectionism] recently. I have learned to let some things go and it’s very relieving.”
While Wong agrees that her perfectionism played a part in her overachievement, she credits the majority to herself.
“I am my own best motivator… I care more about learning stuff,” Wong said.
However, this view is uncommon among overachievers as many are more focused on the end result than the actual learning.
University of Rochester psychologist Andrew Elliot said, “Rather than setting and striving for goals based on a pure desire to achieve, their underlying motivation impels them out into the world to avoid failure.”
Jean Twenge, a San Diego State University psychologist and author of “Generation Me,” said, “This generation has heard about competition and individual success since they were babies, and we’ve found increases in self-belief across traits that relate to achievement, success, leadership ability, and self-confidence.”
Over time, views on success and achievement have changed greatly. Parents expect more from their children, bringing a new layer of pressure to students.
The ChildLine National Exam Stress Survey revealed that 60 percent of 1300 students feel pressure from their parents to do well. In China, Pew Research Center showed that 68 percent of students felt that their parents put too much pressure on them, with only 11 percent of students claiming they had just the right amount of pressure.
In a school system focused on college and the future, there is a continuous goal in the sight of all students to get into college along with the pressure of expectations from their friends, family, and themselves to overachieve.
Jade Sebti, a junior, said, “If you don’t do well in school, then you don’t go to a good school then you don’t get a good job so you don’t make good money and then it goes downhill from there.”