Dear Elle: Honey, you can quit the race

Q: How to deal with pressure to keep being a high-achiever? I am a freshman (haven’t been on campus yet) and was a straight A student in high school, involved into numerous extracurriculars. Now in college I want to spend more time on self-reflection and doing activities, which I barely did in high school, because I couldn’t put them on my resume (such as reading books for pleasure and drawing). However, at the same time, I fear to look like a mediocre person, living mediocre life, doing mediocre things. I also feel a responsibility to continue jumping above my abilities to boost the image of my family and prestigious organizations of which I am a part. I just want to quit this race for achievements and live a life full of happiness, not rush. What should I do???

Honey, you didn’t have to tell me you were a high achiever. This is the longest response I’ve received. But I’m happy you asked. I, too, have fallen victim to the “life’s a race” mentality. It’s not, though, and I think you know that.

So, I’ll keep this short. College is hard. Harder than high school. Meaning you don’t need a million different titles to prove your worth. At some point, it’s going to weigh you down (maybe it already has) more than “boost” your image. Obviously, a “life of happiness” won’t happen overnight, but here’s a potential plan:

1. Focus on your classes, because everyone and their mother knows F&M does not fuck around with the course load. Grades aren’t everything, but if you’re sacrificing your chance to learn (which I assume you enjoy) for an extra sentence on your resume, you’re not doing college right.

2. Watch Marie Kondo and then apply it to the extracurriculars. Look at each thing you do, and ask yourself, “does this bring me joy?” If it doesn’t, well, you know the drill.

3. Give yourself thirty minutes, an hour, a whole goddamn day, and do something you genuinely enjoy. Masturbate for all I care. Just relax, my friend.

You’re what society likes to call an adult now, but if you let yourself live up to that title too quickly, you’re going to miss out on a lot of what the world has to show you, and maybe even what you want to show yourself.

Yours,

Elle

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