Why Do Students Want to Be Perfect in Everything?

Why Do Students Want to Be Perfect in Everything?
By Ahmad Amirali

“Sir, I meet my subject tutor today and he told me that achieving 95% in mathematics and science I, not a big deal and overall 85% is an average grade for a student like you….my parents appear to have a similar kind of thoughts… I feel so much pressure, what if I lost or unable to achieve these grades….”

This is one of the common concerns or what can I say a ‘trauma’ shared by many students, but differently, since I started my teaching career. Each year, several students graduated and happily embark upon their career journey. Some reach out their goals and successfully achieve whatever they’ve planned for their future. However, some teenagers try to pursue whatever their parents, teachers, friends or relatives think are best for them and in that pursuit all they do is simply sacrifice every dream they ever dream for themselves. The question is why is it necessary for students to achieve greatness in every walk of their lives? Does it come from within or from the adults around them?

The word perfection comes from a Latin word perficere which means ‘to complete or finish. However, in contemporary time, it assumes that one has a need to get an A+ in everything, involves the necessity to set high standards for oneself that either cannot be met or can only be met with great difficulty. This type of competitive mindset is the product of today’s industrialise classrooms where every student is expected to perform the same things at the same pace with the standardise testing strategies. Dr Furnham from The Curse of Perfectionism believes ‘Psychologists see perfectionism almost always as a handicap. They see perfectionists as vulnerable to distress, often haunted by a chronic sense of failure, indecisiveness and its close companion procrastination, and shame.’

So, what students would do when they experience ‘failure’ after all the sacrifice of their time and energy. Most of the time, students shut themselves down along with all their curiosity and creativity and becoming passive recipients of the information. This leave students at high risk for depressive symptoms such as social disconnection, curtailing from extracurricular activities, shutting themselves down in their room and the list goes on (Previous Article: Why Do Teens Shut Themselves Away from Their Family and Friends?). So, once again, let me ask that question from teachers and parents, is it necessary for students to achieve greatness in every walk of their lives on the cost of their wellbeing and peace of mind?  I guess the answer should be ‘No’.

Sir, are you suggesting us (parents and teachers) that being a high achiever is a curse for our teens and students shouldn’t be bothered to work hard for their career goals? I am sure that this question will soon appear in my blog Inbox after I publish this article. 😊 I always believe in hard work and I always want every student should pursue their goals based on hard work and determination. I am not against my students for being high achievers, however, there should be a room for improvement and learning. And one can only be improved when they commit ‘Mistakes’. More a person do mistakes – more he/she become ‘perfect’ human. The road to perfection starts from committing mistakes.

Being perfect doesn’t mean that you should score 100/100 in every path of your life. The key to perfectionism is to prioritise your life tasks and give more effort to those tasks that are directly related to your overall goals. For example, it perfectly makes sense to me to get over-prepare for your final dissertation or give 100% of your time in preparing for your first job or internship interview. However, you also need to give yourself a room to relax, get easy and put a little less effort on the rest of your life tasks. Because sometimes, the goal is just to complete the task – not to make it perfect.

So, guys, keep going on a journey of making mistakes, errors and keep on learning. Try to find out ‘Who you are and what are your excellences’ because excellence is much beneficial than being perfect. Good Luck 😊

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