A few weeks ago, I watched The Race to Nowhere. Oh man… it’s good. The documentary looks at education right now and more specifically the pressure parents and students are under. I think this is something every parent needs to watch and every student (eighth grade and up) should watch as well. It should be required before starting high school!!
While watching, I couldn’t help but think? Is College (with a capital C to mean a student’s dream/reach school whatever that may be…) worth it? And at what cost? Where do you draw the line between achieving and overachieving?
In elementary school, I had the worst anxiety driving to school every morning. I don’t think I knew what the word “anxious” was but I would sit in the car, my stomach filling with more dread with every passing street. There was a moment in fourth grade where I had to leave the classroom after panicking about an FCAT prompt. In sixth grade, I had what I imagine was my first blown panic attack. I can’t even remember what it was about but I did NOT want to go to school– and I prided myself on my perfect attendance through graduation. There are too many examples from that point on to include them all. A paper about Animal Farm I couldn’t get just right, a group project involving a Bunsen burner, a serious bout of depression my junior year, fainting in my physics class.
And, as I’ve mentioned, it all unraveled again in an even bigger way my freshman year at college. I went from thinking, “Okay, I’m at Georgetown. I’ve reached The Goal.” To realizing I was just beginning and I had no idea who I was or how to study or why I was doing any of it at all.
The irony of it all is that this extreme personal low (I don’t think I could get any lower if I tried) resulted in me re-channeling my energy into starting this blog. From perfection to passion. From checking the boxes to thinking outside the box.
This was right around the time, seven years ago, when I was at my lowest. We had a long weekend for school and I was supposed to take an exam for one of my classes. Instead of cramming for the exam like a normal college student, I found myself in the hospital. If I was testing myself to find my breaking point, I found it.
Watching A Race to Nowhere was actually pretty difficult because it brought back so many of these memories. Again though, it’s absolutely worth watching. Especially for parents who feel the pressure too and have to watch their kids go through it.
PPS The movie reminded me of The Overachievers… I don’t think much has changed since it was written in 2007, if anything, it’s gotten even worse!