The pressure to be perfect

Being a human being in itself is a struggle, between emotional, physical, and interpersonal turmoil, the growing pains and impending pressure to be perfect weighing down on everyone’s shoulders.

The pressure is at what feels like its peak during high school, when grades really start to matter and the fear of disappointing anyone at any time is absolutely crippling.

For me, the fear of imperfection, no matter how realistic it is, is near paralyzing. 

As a Ghanaian-American student and the youngest child in my immediate family, the expectations are high enough, and my family just keeps setting it higher.

My brother, Jeffrey, is a thirty year old tech-wiz, working in IT and software development. He currently works with real estate agents and housing companies in order to calculate how much a house will cost based on what’s inside it, and how much it takes to build it, and what its market value will become over time.

He graduated from SFA with several degrees, garnering my envy and respect from when he first walked across that stage.

My sister, Blessen, is a twenty two year old empath entering graduate school, with the intention of getting her PHD in psychology, so that she can help people of all ages feel seen and heard, as well as work through their internal issues.

She graduated from Texas Tech with two degrees, and is currently working with an insurance company to inform people of their eligibility for benefits and loans.

That leaves me, a 15-year-old sophomore, who doesn’t have much to show so far. 

It’s not that I’ve never done anything impressive, but graduating college with several degrees and keeping high grades feels like it just may outweigh elementary school spelling bees and recognition for my writing and speaking skills.

I’m not even entirely sure what college I want to attend, and that’s not a great feeling, knowing that my high school career can make or break my chances at getting into the perfect university.

Then there’s the expectations of high school all on its own.

I am constantly reminded that I have to outshine everyone around me if I want a chance at being seen as phenomenal. 

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“Study, study, study!” 

“You should write a little extra every week, just to keep your teachers on their toes.” 

“Have you seen this writing competition? Or that one? Or this one? You should enter them all and write something different every time.”

There’s also the hope that your teachers’ actions are meant to help motivate you and become a better student and person, and knowing whether or not their opinions of you are racially motivated.

Racism is still wild and rampant, an untamed beast raging throughout the country. 

So, in an attempt to keep myself afloat, and impress both teachers and students, especially being a first generation American black kid, I tend to stress myself out, wondering if what I put forth is good enough.  

I’ve always prided myself for being an exceptional writer, but every now and then the inevitable self doubt and insecurity that comes with being a teenager pricks at my thoughts. This column itself had me stuck in a rut, because what if I’m not being descriptive enough? Will my fellow staff writers, teacher, or family be disappointed with what I have to show this week?

In the end, all I can do is do my best, and let some of the weight from unrealistic expectations fall off my shoulders, and let the fact that my family is composed of hardworking and talented individuals drive me to be better rather than stunt my efforts to achieve greatness.

Black or not, college graduate or not, I know that I’m putting my best foot forward, and that should be enough for everyone around me.