Pressure to succeed

In a town like ours, where parents and coaches put immense pressure on children to succeed in every facet of life, the fear of failure is monstrously high.

Although the desperation to succeed can fuel it, striving for success solely to stave off failure often does so in the worst possible way. At a time when seventh graders are being rushed into PSATs and Harvard students are calling in bomb threats to delay their exams, we should all take a step back and consider a much healthier way to encourage success.

When I think of an environment that encouraged success in my own life, I often think of how my parents have allowed me to become my own person in an invested, yet calming way. Right from the beginning of elementary school, it was very apparent that I was a slow learner. Whether it was basic addition or picking up on the nuances of touch football during recess, I often lagged behind my classmates. The frustration I felt was only magnified by how inferior I felt when I made the move to private school and the school’s administrators felt it necessary to occasionally pull me out of class to test what my academic level was.

But however low these feelings would bring me, I was able to find refuge from them at home. I could bring home any grade imaginable and my mom would greet me with a hug and remind me how grandpa always used to say, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” It was those words and that loving environment which not only helped me eventually build a strong academic record through hard work and perseverance, but helped me gain a sense of self-confidence that has become the cornerstone of my entire being.

The environment in which I grew up taught me that despite any of my failures, I would still have a family that loves me and that the only shame in failing would be not trying your hardest to succeed. While it still takes a while for me to grasp on to some concepts in school, I know I have nothing to worry about. I am emboldened by the fact that previous experiences have shown me that hard work over time makes everything work out for the better and that I’m more likely to be known for my strong suits than for my faults.

So, instead of buying into a culture of fear perpetuated by the environment you’re in and losing sleep over what you can’t do, focus on what makes your life unique and find a way to bear your shortcomings with dignity and grace.

 

Christopher Lucey is a junior at Brunswick School.

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