Wednesday, June 17, 2015


From a young age, students adopt competitive habits. Even in elementary school, I remember my classmates asking around for each other's latest test scores to figure out who earned the highest score, who was the smartest, the best.

Before I knew any better, I would join in--piping up with my score in hopes of figuring out who did the best, in hopes that it was me. Because life is realistic and not idealistic, it was never me. This didn't start affecting me until seventh, though. Specifically, my Algebra 1 Honors class. Algebra happened to be a good subject for me, so the top score started to be me--and not too inconsistently, either. However, as expected, it couldn't always be me, and that's what got to me.

I'm going to take a second to explain my competitiveness. For the most part, I'm considerably laid back when it comes to competition. I am completely capable of simply participating for the fun, not for the win. The problem arises when I am given a little taste of victory. It's like giving me a chocolate cake but only allowing me to take a bite. If you're going to give me a bite, then sorry, I'm taking the whole damn cake. My entire freshman year of speech and debate went by without me becoming particularly competitive. Our team was a fetus, and I was in a category that didn't particularly suit me, so I didn't find much success. Hence, I was able to enjoy each competition without becoming too invested. However, in sophomore year, I found a category that a really vibed with, and on my second competition of the year, I broke to finals, and that was it. From that moment on, each speech and debate competition was a challenge that I took on with everything I had.

But I was talking about school.

Throughout high school, I rarely shared my test scores, and no one outside my family knows my SAT score. In this way I hoped to detach myself from the mad competition that my classmates decided to curse themselves with. For the most part, separating myself from the stupid competition worked, but that didn't stop my classmates from pestering me about my grades. By the way, I want to say something to emphasize how ridiculous competition in high school is. My younger brother is friends with a lot of upperclassmen (because he's just that cool) who happen to be my classmates. There are people, who I barely know, who ask my brother for my test scores because I wouldn't discuss them. I mean seriously, how desperate are you to have a chance at being better than me? After awhile, my brother just started asking for their scores and telling them I scored higher--just to mess with them. Gotta love my brother.

I hated constantly competing with my classmates over test scores and other stupid things. Whereas speech and debate tournaments were once a month and an intended place of competition, school was every day, and the competition was unspoken but ubiquitous. That's what I hate about high school. Everyone acts like she's best friends with everyone, but you all know that you're competitors. And for what? A spot at the same college? The teacher's favorite? The highest grade in the class? These things always seem incredibly important, but they're not, because in a few years, months even, none of this will matter. And although in the past I've been able to say these words, I'm starting to truly accept the truth in these words.

Hopefully college is a place where I can finally measure my success and self-worth by my own standards rather than class rankings and test scores.

My hopes aren't to high, though.

I'm optimistic, not dumb.

<Lucy Cartin

No comments:

Post a Comment