The Pressure to be Perfect

Going into freshman year, I thought I could do it all and I did. I took all advanced classes, ran cross country and track, and participated in Model U.N. I wanted to take all the hard classes, get good grades, and be involved every year of high school. I wanted to be perfect.

In the spring of my freshman year, I had to decide on my schedule for the next year. I readily signed up for the only AP class available for sophomores and any other advanced class I could get into as well as joining newspaper staff. I finished the year confident that the next one would be just as perfect.

When school started up again in the fall, I was a sophomore. I was excited and ready. Within a matter of weeks though, things started to go downhill. It wasn’t so much that my classes were too hard for me or the homework load was too much. It was more the pressure I felt from my parents and myself to do well mixed with the cruelness of my peers. I wanted to do well in school and in cross country so when some boys decided to make fun of me for not being a good runner, I took it hard.

It got to the point where I did not want to come to school because of some of the things those boys did or said to me. I would leave my first hour every morning on the verge of tears. My teacher out of laziness, avoided the situation.

With the pressure I felt already and the daily reminder from those boys that I would never be good enough, I became depressed, something that I was already susceptible to because of a family history of mental illnesses.

This is the part in my story where the cutting came in. When I started to feel overwhelmed or worthless, I would cut. If I was stressed out because of ad sales for newspaper, I would cut. If I was having family problems, I would cut. If I got a bad grade on a test, I would cut. Cutting was the only thing that gave me a sense of control over my messy life.

Fortunately, I was able to seek help from a professional as well as my support system and I got out of cutting. I won’t ever say that I’m fully healed because I never will be. I will carry my depression with me for the rest of my life even if it lays dormant at times.

My story is not unique. I would say that it’s common for many high school students to feel the way I did.

At the end of my sophomore year, I was asked to make decisions about what classes I wanted to take as a junior. I chose carefully this time. I was forced to pick what subjects I wanted to push myself in and the ones that didn’t matter to me so much. I eventually decided that since I want to be a doctor, math and science would be the most important ones to focus on.

Also, knowing that I would be an editor for the newspaper this year, I decided to quit Model U.N. The club itself wasn’t that much work but the conference was a confidence killer and I wanted to be able to dedicate myself to the newspaper.

Now as a junior, I know I made the right decisions. I have a good balance of classes and extracurriculars that while still challenging, are manageable. For the first time in what feels like months, I am enjoying myself. I would almost go as far to say that I’m happy.


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