056 Whatever You’re Doing, It’s Not Good Enough.

A friend recently visited Cornell on her journey of college visits. As she was talking, I noticed certain phrases that were being used consistently throughout our conversations. Phrases like, “I doubt I’ll get in,” and “I don’t think I’m good enough for that”. I think every Cornell student would agree that those phrases aren’t too uncommon on this campus. Business Insider just published an article which highlights 19 Cornell students with huge achievements (one of them being one of my Kappa Delta sisters! Go Jenn! Article found here). Even during recruitment, when I was speaking to girls who were roughly my age, I was amazed at how accomplished my peers were, and how much they’ve done before they turn 20. There are students here who are already CEOs of their own companies or have developed iPhone apps or have discovered some sort of innovation. There are people here with over 4.0 GPAs and people who can take semesters off just to work on their own start-ups. I admire their courage and risk-taking, and use it as motivation for me to work harder toward my goals. However, I can definitely understand the constant, dulling pressure of feeling like you have to keep up with them. There are times when I’ve felt like there’s no way for me to be as good as those exceptional students, and I’m tempted just to give up.

However, when I spoke to my high school friend, I could tell that it was a tired feeling for her. She got rejected from her top choice college early decision and seemed like she lost confidence in herself. She kept adding those subtle phrases of doubt.

I’ve been there. I’ve experienced and am experiencing it now, with the stress of medical school, and I don’t think I realized that about myself until I spoke with her and saw a lot of her starting to grow in me. When I get stressed out about post-college life, my friends often try to comfort me by saying that it’s too early for me to even worry about it – that I’m being pre-mature. Of course I wouldn’t actually listen to them because it’s never really too early to start planning for your future. And like the Business Insider article points out, it’s never too early to have accomplishments. So that wasn’t it.

When I spoke to my friend, I realized that I, too, constantly doubt myself. I sometimes back out of experiences because I’m too scared I’ll fail. I do what I’m comfortable with and often, what I’m good at is what I like. Sometimes I verbally doubt myself to my friends, as if I’m trying to cushion the possibility of failure.

It’s scary that the stress has become so ingrained in us that we’ve made a habit of doubting our potentials. We’re all great and we’re here at this school, which is an accomplishment in itself. No one, especially ourselves, should tell us that we can’t do something we want to do. We shouldn’t lower our standards. Let’s make it happen.

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One Response to 056 Whatever You’re Doing, It’s Not Good Enough.

  1. Ricky says:

    Hi Sarah, I’m a sophomore in high school. I can certainly relate to your friend: it seems that every year that passes, college looms closer and stress levels get higher. Indeed, I have often thought to myself that whatever I’m doing isn’t good enough, because there will always be people more skilled or more successful than me. This, as you said, is the wrong mindset, and I completely agree with you. You also mentioned that you understand the pressure of feeling like you’re not good enough, which I found strange because you attend one of the most accomplished schools in the country. I don’t pretend to understand much of the challenges of college life, but how do you deal with your problems of stress?

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