I came out of the womb an intense competitor and bad sport, and all the time-outs in the world haven’t cured me of that.
You do not want to play any sort of competitive game or sport with me if you want to win and walk away with all your limbs intact. I avoid board games, video games and Facebook games so I can avoid awkward social scandals that leave me the pariah twitching in the corner with all of my wins.
However, there is one area of my life that I can’t avoid: academics. I’ve worked really hard to overcome my competitive nature when it comes to school because I like having friends. I tend to view my fellow students as my enemies if I’m allowed to indulge in my petty, competitive side for too long.
I’ve come a long way since my high school days of loathing anybody who outperformed me. That instinct is still there, but I manage to squash it most days by laughing with my friends and focusing on my accomplishments.
That is, of course, until that one person shows up in my classes. You know who I’m talking about—the student who apparently has no life outside of school so he or she is obnoxiously on top of it all. I’m calling out the smug turds who feel the need to ask every person in class his or her score so they can smugly announce their curb-destroying grade.
And, I can criticize those turds because I used to be that turd. That test everyone in AP History bombed my junior year of high school? You bet I let everybody know that it was my grade that destroyed theirs.
I would have driven around in an ice-cream van with speakers on top blasting my ACT scores, my college acceptances and my fourth-grade Geography Bee win.
Then, chemistry hit. I, like many good people, suck at chemistry. I busted my butt to get OK test scores, only to have my best friend ace every single one without studying.
Suddenly, the roles were switched, and I realized how obnoxious my own behavior had been to my fellow students.
I still catch my turd tendencies surfacing from time to time, and I have to put the kibosh on them fast because I can sense the irritation and dejection popping everybody else’s balloons.
Celebrating good grades and high scores is a good thing. We should all revel in our awesomeness when the time calls for it. That doesn’t mean we need to be in everybody else’s faces constantly calling attention to our high scores and aced exams.
All that does is make the perpetrator a giant jerk who makes everybody else feel terrible about themselves.
School and education are about improving one person and one person only: yourself. We all come to school for different reasons, and we all start out at different levels. Constantly competing for the top grade and alienating our fellow students should not be part of the equation.
Rather, understanding our own capabilities and limitations, reaching our own personal goals, and getting our own degrees should be our priority.
Students who are the top of their classes should take immense pride in that fact. They’ve worked hard for the position and should own it. But, they shouldn’t validate themselves by smugly broadcasting that status.
Likewise, average students shouldn’t feel bad about not being the top scorers. Instead, they should focus on how far they have come and their own personal achievements.
And we should celebrate any success together, rather than turning it into a reason for enmity.
It’s a fine line to tread, for sure, but I have faith in the sensitivity and tactfulness of DSC students. So, come the end of the semester when you’ve kicked butt in your classes, don’t be afraid to post a “Yay me!” Facebook status. Just don’t give a rundown of your exact percentage for each class.