Being Your Own Metric for Success
Not one of us can say that we’ve never done it. At UT, we’re surrounded by extremely ambitious students who seem to have their lives together, and sometimes we can’t help but look at ourselves and feel we’re insufficient by comparison. It’s easy to fall into the trap of measuring your own worth by using peers as a metric, even though we know in the back of our minds that they’re just as stressed as we are sometimes. Some days, it seems like you’ll never be as good as the president of your organization, or that one friend who has an amazing internship at a biotech company. However, it is so important that we maintain perspective in times like those, for a few reasons:
1. We set unattainable goals for ourselves
Anyone who’s pre-med, pre-research, really pre-anything, has a set of expectations that they’re expected to achieve before they will even be considered by their chosen professional or graduate school. With such ambitious goals in mind, many of us become convinced that we need to have a superhuman level of productivity to earn admission into these institutions.
2. Comparison takes our eyes off of the prize: true, personalized education
Once we’ve figured out what career paths we want to pursue, it’s ridiculously easy to consider college as just a stepping stone to whatever comes after graduation. So much of what we do is not because we seek to truly absorb the information in class, or because we are passionate about it, but on making a good enough grade to maintain our GPAs and not fall behind our peers, meaning we do not actually learn the material taught to us,. We do ourselves a disservice when we choose grades over knowledge.
3. We lose the unique components of ourselves that make us that much more valuable
College is about finding what’s interesting to you, learning how to think for yourself, and developing into an adult that the child version of you would be proud of. If we’re so focused on being better than our fellow students, we run the risk of losing our individuality on the way to success. If you’re only pursuing a major or participating in an organization just because it looks good on your resume, it likely will not make you happy, and therefore you will probably not be more successful in that field in the long run.
In conclusion, there is absolutely nothing wrong with following your own compass. We have an amazing opportunity to pursue all of our interests for four years, and we shouldn’t waste them trying to be like our peers. As students at the University of Texas, we all have the skills and intelligence to achieve our goals, regardless of how windy, long, and unique our different paths are.