You are more than your grades

Joanna Paje, Staff Writer

If there is one thing that students all around the world can agree with, it is the fact that school is difficult. This is the truth at the very core of it: the pursuit of education is a long and gruesome journey that encompasses failure, success, demoralization and motivation. Academia is a cacophony of contradictions and unfortunately, you either go with it or you crack under pressure. As an Asian-American student, however, the expectations I am held to by my family and even other Asian-American students makes going to school even more of an emotional chore. 

If you’re anything like me and you grew up in a toxic Asian household, you’ll know that the only thing your parents, aunts and wildly successful cousins chase are good reputations and even better grades. You are not told to be the best: you are to strive for perfection and nothing less. There is no such thing as “good enough;” it is either perfect, or it is nothing at all. 

You can only imagine how taxing this is on anyone that is held to such a standard. 

Of course, my situation may not be the norm. There may be a thousand Asian students out there who read this and think, “what are they talking about?” but I can assure you that there are a plethora of students who struggle just as much as I do. 

Unfortunately, this is an issue that has been going on for generations, and even though this problem is too thick of a knot for myself alone to untie, I believe it is time to change this as we approach an ever-evolving modern world. Simply put, perfection is impossible. In fact, there is no such thing as perfection in a world that is rich with imperfections. I understand that I cannot change the perspectives of older generation Asian parents, but I can at least try to reach out to the generation of students that are crumbling under the pressure of ruthless expectations. 

It is okay to be human. You are not a machine. You are never expected to be perfect, even in the “real world” that people try to scare you with. Do not become a slave to grasping for perfect grades; the more you try to cling to it, the more it will slip through your fingers. If you focus so much of your time and energy in trying to be a perfect student, a perfect child, a perfect musician, a perfect scientist, a perfect anything: you’re putting yourself at risk of losing your golden years to a goal that is just not within your reach. To strive for excellence shows discipline and determination; to strive for perfection is simply foolish. 

Don’t get me wrong, it is admirable to have goals and have ambition. Where would we be without them? Having a dream and working toward it to make it a reality is beautiful and incredibly empowering, but understand that the perception of excellence and success can easily be warped into perfection. Hard work is wonderful, but driving yourself into the ground trying to be something that you are not is not. You do not have to be a doctor. You do not have to be a lawyer. You do not have to please anyone but yourself. The only thing you have to be is happy. You only have to be you, and the definition of that is entirely up to you.