(Reprinted from the January Network, p.7)
Striving for both over-achievement and over-involvement fuels the toxic ideal that in order to be perfect you must be a part of as many clubs, activities and sports as humanly possible. The adoption of this ideal tends to have a plethora of negative effects on both the individual and the Marian community as a whole.
A state of constant, extreme stress has become a standard way of life for high school students all across America. This hits very close to home. Participating in lots of extracurriculars, having an active social life and having at least a 4.0 GPA has become the goal of many Marian girls.
“I often feel overwhelmed by school and balancing extracurricular activities,” sophomore Molly Gallegos said. Gallegos isn’t alone in this feeling. According to the January Network survey of 253 girls, roughly 62 percent of Marian girls at least sometimes experience stress because they feel they are too involved.
“Personally, most of the pressure I had to join lots of things comes mostly from myself. My schedule often becomes overcrowded because I want to have an outlet for all my interests,” freshman Claire Bentley said.
Marian has somewhat of a stigma to get involved in many extracurriculars. When asked what she believes the cause is, Gallegos said, “I think there is this ‘pressure’ because they want us to learn to time manage and learn how to become well balanced with activities and school to get us prepared for college.”
“Sometimes I do feel like girls struggle with pressure. It isn’t necessarily always good to be involved in so much just because it’s built into our society to be multi-talented and successful. These things can be good if they push us positively, but girls need to maintain a balance,” Bentley said.
Learning how to time-manage and balance activities, school and a social life is imperative for preparing for college. However, another crucial piece of this is including stress relief into the list of things to balance. Perhaps if the whole student body made an effort to focus on what is most important to each of them and also stress-relief, then everyone would be less stressed, there would be less pressure to overachieve and the entire Marian community would benefit.
The effects of everyone striving for perfection through over-achievement are evident, not only in the individual, but also in the entire Marian community.
Over the last three or four years, students and teachers alike have noticed a sharp decrease in attendance of clubs at Marian. However, there hasn’t been a decrease in sign-ups. So this begs the question, why do these students sign up if they’re not going to attend? It could be for their Naviance resume, they could have signed up with the intention to participate and lost track of time, or perhaps they felt pressure to sign up for a club they actually had no interest in. Regardless of the cause, this lack of attendance affects the whole school.
“I think at the Club Fair many girls have a lot of interests and sign up for a lot of things, but do not really plan their schedules out or prioritize what will work the best for them. As the year goes on, girls become more zoned in on what is most important to them and maybe only pick a few clubs to go to,” Bentley said.
Mrs. Janet Tuttle, French teacher and French Club moderator, has been aware of the decrease in club attendance for a while now.
“I don’t know if kids are just really busy with other things, but when I talk to other moderators, it seems like all clubs are down so I don’t know where kids are going if they’re not going to any clubs,” Tuttle said.
Students are constantly tasked with trying to balance activities, clubs and sports. “I signed up for 11 clubs at the beginning of the year, which was a tad ambitious. I only really actively participate in four of those, and I have gone to a few meetings for three others. However I am also a class officer, on the Debate Team, plan to play soccer in the spring and have dance and club soccer after school,” Bentley said.
As a school, there is a push to participate and overachieve, however this isn’t negative. “It is important to them [Marian community leaders] that everyone be involved in something. I think the rationale is that you feel more connected to a place if you do more than just go to school there,” Tuttle said.
Between aspiring for connectedness and college preparedness, a healthy amount of clubs and extracurriculars can be beneficial to students, individually, as a community and globally.