Updated: Jul 20, 2021
School Diaries is an interview series that tells the behind-the-scenes stories of student life. The aim is to give you a peek into the secret lives of students by creating a space where students can be vulnerable and share their intimate, personal stories without fear of judgement or backlash. All interviews are presented anonymously and any names used have been changed to protect identities.
Sometimes Getting A's Is Not All It Is Cracked Up To Be
Greg: Ben, welcome to School Diaries. Thank you for coming today to share your story. Ben is a high school senior in St. Louis, Missouri.
Ben: Thanks for having me on.
Greg: So you have always been a straight A student throughout elementary school and high school, but you were telling me that has led to some issues for you as you have gotten older.
Ben: Yeah school has always come pretty easy to me. I don't usually have to try too hard on homework or in class. I just get things. They make sense to me. So I end up getting A's.
Greg: That sounds pretty great to me. I think a lot of students would kill to have it easy like that in school.
Ben: Yeah it has been pretty nice. Like I don't spend as much time on homework as some of my friends, and I'm in all honors classes. My parents let me do pretty much whatever I want as long as my grades stay high too. But there are...um...other things that aren't so great about it, you know?
Greg: Like what?
Ben: Well like, there is some stuff that I've noticed. I am about to graduate and my GPA is 4.72, and people always tell me how great that is, and I never really know what to say, because I feel like I didn't earn it, because I didn't really try that hard to get it. It feels weird.
Greg: What feels weird about it?
Ben: It's just awkward because people are giving me praise, but I feel like I didn't do anything to earn it. I mean I like it and everything, but part of me feels like I don't deserve it.
Greg: Yeah I get that. Feel like a bit of a fraud.
Ben: Yeah exactly.
Greg: And what goes on inside your head when you get that praise?
Ben: I feel like I want to escape. It's uncomfortable and I want to get away. My mind is like, "I don't know what to say." So I usually just awkwardly say thanks and try to change the subject.
Greg: Seems like you might be a little embarrassed when people praise you for your GPA.
Ben: Yeah I am feeling a little embarrassed now too.
Greg: *laughs* Yes, I noticed that when your cheeks turned red. You are doing great. Thanks for being so open. Is there anything else you would like to share?
Ben: Well another thing I have noticed is that I also don't like to try new things.
Greg: What do you mean?
Ben: Like sometimes there might be something I want to try. It looks fun or cool. But I'm afraid I won't be good at it, so I just don't do it.
Greg: Ahhh gotcha. And you think that is related to school?
Ben: I think it might be. Since I always got good grades, my parents would get on my case if my grades ever dropped to B's, so I feel like I have to do everything perfect or they will be all upset.
Greg: How does that tie into trying new things?
Ben: So now I think like I have to be really good when I try something new, and I won't do it if I'm not good.
Greg: Could you give us an example?
Ben: Sure. The other day I was at Guitar Center with my friend and they had this drum set there. I always thought the drums were pretty cool so I sat down to play.
I started to play and it sounded bad. Just bad. Like noise. But I didn't really care because I was having fun just messing around. Then, my friend laughed at me and said stuff like, "Oh...sounds just like a pro. What band are you in?" Stuff like that. Teasing me and stuff.
So I just set down the sticks and stopped. I don't want to do it if I am going to be bad at it and people are going to make fun of me.
Greg: Yeah, I mean fair enough that you felt that way. I probably would have too. I have perfectionist tendencies and I know what it feels like.
Ben: Yeah it's like I want to do something, but if it's not perfect, then I just won't. I get bummed out sometimes because I feel stuck.
Greg: I know that feeling well. Can I offer you some advice?
Greg: What helped me was that every time I wanted to do something new and that voice of perfectionism popped up in my head, I'd just say to it, "Eh, let's just try it anyway." I would say it real casually like it was no big deal.
And when that voice said stuff like, "But we will be embarrassed or look stupid. It's better not to try." I would just keep saying to myself, "I totally understand. I get it. You maybe right. And...eh, let's just try it anyway." Eventually, that voice would get quiet and I would try the thing I wanted to try!
Ben: OK, I'll try it out.
Greg: Excellent. Well Ben, it was a pleasure having you on. Thanks for being our first interviewee! Check out my website, thinkandevolve.academy, if you want to learn some more about having conversations with yourself. Sounds weird, but trust me, it is awesome.
Ben: OK, I will. And thanks for having me on too! It was nice to be able to share that with someone.
Greg: My pleasure. This has been Social Diaries. Stay legendary, my amigos.