“I say never be complete, I say stop being perfect, I say let… let’s evolve, let the chips fall where they may.” -Tyler Durden (Fight Club)
We all know what it’s like, in our society from high school to everyday applications, to have the pressure of being busy and being perfect on your shoulders. While there are people out there who DO thrive on having things to keep them occupied all the time, most people need breaks and those same people are afraid to take them. Our society makes it seem like you aren’t having a fulfilling life if you aren’t constantly working, or in my case, being booked solid with extracurriculars. I think we need to stop trying to be perfect and do the things that make us happy instead of the things that make others happy, and that’s what we should strive for instead of impressing others or completing ourselves.
My parents have never been the kind to force me into things I didn’t want to do, or book up my schedule just so I was out of the house. Therefore, I’ve had time to explore outside individual interests, like reading, writing, drawing, blogging etc. And I feel like all of them have made me into a better, more rounded person. But I will admit that now being in school with so many kids used to this busy and intense schedule of doing everything, it is certainly stressful. So much pressure is put on you to make plans and join things simply to be busy, even if they don’t make you happy. Then, there is the pressure when it comes to simply trying to apply for something you are interested in, but you won’t be taken seriously because you don’t do every extracurricular and sport under the sun. We need to stop the glorification of the idea of busy, some people are just as happy being in a calm environment like their own home.
I think that it can be tracked back to the parents. When our parents were kids, they didn’t have the kind of opportunities we do now. More than that, their parents never pushed them to try things, resulting in them regretting all the things they never did when they were young enough to just try things with no consequences. Now that they are adults with kids, they are pushing that regret out through us and living vicariously through their children. Dads that never had a parent that watched them play baseball or moms that never had the chance to learn piano, are using this as their opportunity to allow their kids to play piano and have someone cheer them on from the stands. The problem here is that the kids may not want to play piano or/and baseball. Maybe they want to read and write or be a photographer?
Starting in early elementary school, we are already being forced into things we didn’t know or didn’t want to do. Maybe it was no-cut soccer, or gymnastics, or piano, either way, the majority of us were still a bit young to have a passion like our parents always wanted. Most of us just wanted to play outside with our friends or ride our bikes to get ice cream, or read our books. Unless our parents really pushed it, little to none of us had a passion yet. Our parents booked our schedules up in hopes of us getting the childhood they never had, but that meant we may be missing out on the parts of the childhood that we wanted.
Moving into middle school, most kids already had their “things” whether they liked it or not, and these years were dedicated to improving those skills and trying to find what we really loved. The problem with finding what we really loved though was the fact that the kids who have been in the hobby we were actually interested in were intimidating due to their history there. To illustrate, imagine you are a seventh grader and you want to join the basketball team. Would you be more motivated to join the team knowing there were plenty of new people learning who hadn’t played before? As opposed to if you were the only new person trying out, out of 30 girls who have been playing for years and years already. Out of fear, most of us just decided to set it aside and let the people who were good at the hobby do it, and then maybe we would pick it up later. It’s too bad there never was a later time to pick it up at. This turned into a fear of trying new things, forcing us to stick with whatever our parents or we had chose at a very young age.
Finally, we move onto high school, and the pressure is worse than ever. Because now is the time when you realize everything you participate in helps to determine how you appear to colleges. The people I talked about earlier, that have been in the same sport(s) or extracurriculars for so long, have solid spots on teams and, therefore, solid things for their resume. While the people like me, who were never that invested in extracurriculars, have to start now or never. I entered this year with plenty of clubs and ideas to do this year, but by the time I got adjusted to homework and a schedule, the last thing I wanted to think about was things that would take away from time to do my massive amounts of homework (which I actually addressed in a previous post) and things that would take away from the time I take to recuperate from it all. Therefore, I only am in a couple clubs this year and am going to play a sport this spring, now that I will know how to adjust everything around the time commitment. For how stressful school is, and how hard it is to excel in it, I feel like school itself is a full-time job. On top of that is our own health (though it gets pushed to the side sometimes), our sleep, our social life etc. I think that by colleges looking for people stuffed with extracurriculars on top of good grades, we are just more likely to put all that other stuff aside.
If the scheduling stress isn’t enough, there is also the comparing yourselves to others. Just because someone is busier than you, you assume they are more successful, more well rounded. But what colleges and jobs don’t see is that while you seem like you aren’t busy on paper, since you may not play sports or act or do music, you may have plenty of interests that can’t be done through a small school club or a school sport. Me for example, am a total adventure-junkie, I prefer hiking to cross country and traveling to an “international club” after school. They may not see how stressful it is not to feel like you aren’t good at anything just because it isn’t a socially popularized talent, they won’t see how good of a writer you are with your short stories or how well you work with kids when you babysit. It is simply ridiculous that you are judged and compared to others on paper based on your extracurricular activities, then based on what is actually happening in your brain and what kind of person you are. These people can have closed off ideas of success and fulfillment, and I think that it is extremely unfair that if you don’t find the same things interesting, you are practically disregarded. I’ve met plenty of people that are passionate about other things, like human rights and politics and bettering our world, and on some level I think that means more than a small amount of passion to many materialistic things.
I know recently I’ve been stressing out over this a lot, and I’ve recently been having absurd ideas that if I’m not great at sports or a star at something I will have a hard time getting a college to accept me. While I know my grades are very good and my classes are rigorous, I feel like my extracurricular history isn’t enough and I think a lot of this has to do with how society has turned extracurriculars into a full-blown competition instead of simply things that make you happy. If we stop this glorification of busy, the stress, the pressure, and the competition to be perfect will all lessen. This will help us mentally and physically, we won’t be as stretched thin doing things we don’t love, and we won’t be losing time to sleep or relax or be with the people we care about. Stopping this would help all of us live a better life that we love, not that other people have told us to love.