Dear Gabi: Second is not the best
Balancing life and school
In every possible area of my life, my success and achievements are not good enough. While I’m throwing a party because I got a B- on my last Chem test, my friend is disappointed that she only pulled an A instead of an A+. I barely made it on the JV team in my sport, but my best friend is on varsity as a sophomore. I have my fingers crossed that I’ll be able to get my 60 hours of community service done in the next two years for graduation and she’s already surpassed the requirement for a silver cord. I babysit two kids from my church for $12 an hour, but my best friend watches her neighbors kids for free. I literally can’t win. At anything. I know everyone always says “life is not a competition” but I think it’s naive for someone to think that he or she is not competing with everyone around them. However, the only thing worse that being in this endless competition is losing. Do you have any tricks for how I could possibly be better in at least one area?
Second is the not the best
Dear Second is not the best,
You may be a little annoyed at my saying this, but life is not always a competition. It is very, very easy to get sucked into this desire to surpass the achievements of others, however, that is not what living life is all about. During my sophomore year of high school, I signed up to take AP US History. It was paired with Honors English 10, every other day. Neither of the two classes were easy; each class period presented a new academic challenge, and that’s what drew me to them to begin with. When I first started APUSH, my main concern when we got a test or assignment back was finding out what everyone else got. I wanted to assess my abilities by sizing myself up against the other smart and talented kids in my class. Can you believe that? I was trying to base my abilities off of a test score from my first AP class. I wish I could go back and tell my 15 year old self that this notion was ridiculous. Every single kid in that class was interesting and unique and possessed a plethora of different skills and talents. There is no one scale in the world that anyone could possibly use to measure who is better or more talented. Every individual is great and not so great at so many different things that it is impossible to make these assumptions. I once heard this expression that goes something along the lines of, “every person should strive to be better than the person they were yesterday.” You should not spend one more minute comparing yourself to your best friend. Love him or her for being talented and achieving great things, but also love yourself and the things you have achieved. You may not have 135 hours of community service or grades as high as you may have hoped, but there are other important aspects of life. Focus your life on how kind you are to others, how you impact other lives and how you strive to be the best person you can.
The Freedom Forum is an award-winning high school publication at Freedom High School in the Bethlehem Area School District in Pennsylvania. The organization publishes approximately 8 issues per school year and reports on local, as well as world, events.