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“Weather 72, or 88. 44 or 68. We will not let exam results decide our fate”. Spoken Words artist Suli Breaks seamlessly illustrates the tug of war game that is my life. Somehow we’ve come to believe that we’re only as good as the number that defines us. The prevalence of rank and GPA have altered society-possibly for the worst, and therein lays the origin of my difficulties. Ever since 9th grade, I’ve constantly been pressured by my parents to do well in school.
For them, it seems there’s no grade other than a 97, or higher, and there’s no SAT score other than a 2400. While I realize that it’s reasonable for parents to have high expectations, I find it bothersome that, so often, they are so unwilling to understand the circumstances. This pressure creates a really stressful environment that makes it even more difficult to perform well in. Seldom do they recognize my actual achievements- they’re quite literally looking for perfection at times. This constant demand for excellence diminishes their appreciation for what I actually do well in.
The most difficult part, is that they continue to reiterate that I shouldn’t be stressed and I need to relax. The only problem is, they don’t realize that they are precisely the ones causing the stress. In 7th grade, they would constantly remind me that my math and foreign language grades would be present on the transcript.
They demanded excellent grades and looked down upon anything lower than a 93. In 8th grade, they repeated the process, continuously emphasizing the importance of having excellent grades and college transcripts. In 9th grade, they began these long lectures on how the next 3 years would be the most important of my life. I realized the importance on the stage in life I was approaching, but it seemed that every day, I would get a lecture about performing well in school and demanding that I remain consistent with good grades.
Even though I was only in 9th grade, they frowned upon my 1850 SAT score; they claimed I wasn’t dedicated; they claimed I didn’t care; they claimed I never tried. They were always wrong. My parents never seemed to realize how big of a toll their words really had on me. In 10th grade, it become unbearable. I got “talks” everyday about the high standards that were set for me. When I came back from debate tournaments, just wanting to be excited about my second place trophy, my dad would enlighten me by suggesting that I should work on the SAT just as hard as I work on debate.
My parents consistently fail to realize how hard I truly work. This pervasive conflict has wormed its way into nearly every aspect of my life. This is me, remembering my difficulties. This is me, realizing that no- the way my parents, and to a further extent society, has modeled education is wrong. This is me, dealing with my difficulties and persevering through my parent’s constant annoyance. This is me, standing here today, holding my Harvard University acceptance letter, ready to prove my parents wrong.
This is my happy ending, because the difficulties my parents presented to me only made my resolve stronger to not only be successful, but to merely prove them wrong. In the words of Suli Breaks, “So this one is for my generation, the ones who found what they were looking for on Google, the ones who followed their dreams on Twitter, pictured their future on Instagram, accepted destiny on Facebook. This one’s for my “failures” and “dropouts”, for my unemployed graduates, my shop assistants, cleaners and cashiers with bigger dreams, my self-employed entrepreneurs, my world-changers and my dream-chasers.
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