A problem that I feel a lot of young adults like me have is that they feel like they aren’t doing enough. I personally struggle with the fact that I feel like a failure. In high school, I was able to take several AP classes at once, barely study for any of the AP tests, and still pass them all. I could write an essay in an hour the night before it was due and have it still compare remarkably well with everybody in my class. I tutored a student in Geometry in my Junior year, and she constantly had to ask me to rewind and explain how I worked out a solution I had done in my head, thinking it was simple. In this respect, I’ve been astoundingly privileged and gifted.
So I don’t think it would be any surprise to anyone that whenever I fall below the 90th percentile of people I’m performing a task with, I consider myself to be losing. A ‘B’ might as well be a fail in classes I take.
But at the same time, I am not an over achiever. I have an easier time of it as I don’t have to study as hard as anyone else and things like that, but I don’t put my maximum effort into anything, either. I try to hit a sweet spot of doing the least amount of work while still retaining an ‘A’. It’s pretty much only in things concerning Nacre Then that I give the most amount of effort I possibly can.
I have a friend I’ve known for a while. Sain is a lot like me except he has to put his soul into everything he does. Including life. If my memory was good enough, I’m almost positive I could count on one hand the amount of times we had been able to hang out during our high school careers, because he was always busy. It’s so bad communication alone can often be too high a demand, even today. At this point I’ve gotten used to it, but hearing about how tiring his day has been can even exhaust me. He would be appalled if I told him that I spent exactly half an hour on the last essay I wrote for one of my classes, not even glancing back to edit it. While I love how spirited he is about everything, I fear Sain’s just wasting too much daylight (and admittedly moonlight, too), working on something he won’t remember doing in a year’s time. Beyond that, he is stressing out about what should have been done today to get him to tomorrow.
But while stress can be a healthy motivator, obviously too much won’t be good for you. I would try to convince him to take my strategy of simply putting less effort into everything, but that’s not really how his mind works. Don’t live too fast. You are not expected to have everything settled and prepared by the time you’re twenty-four, and nobody will fault you if you don’t. In fact, I’d be impressed with anyone that achieved the exact plans that they made in high school. Life just doesn’t work out that way.
One of the most common regrets that people of advanced age involves something they did or did not do in their youth. I can’t say what the future will hold for me, but if I’ve spent most of my life being among the top of the class, and I know a lot of successful adults that didn’t have it that good. It would be completely unrealistic to expect to fail at life so thoroughly when you’ve done better than most up until that point. So relax. If you’re going to put all your effort into something, make it something you enjoy. Because in the end, that will be what you’re most proud of. If you like reading, you’ll thank yourself later for doing “good enough” on an essay and giving yourself extra time to read. Having “extra time” is a valuable resource when being whisked off to adulthood. Don’t waste it. Forward is forward, regardless of velocity.