Placing High Expectations on Self


How many of us place high expectations on ourselves and then get stressed out about the demands we place on ourselves?  For example, telling yourself that you are going to run a marathon, but stopping at mile 17 on your run.  After that run, you stress out because you didn’t make the 23 miles and race day is in like two weeks.  I think that, to an extent, we all do this to ourselves in some way.  I have a problem with doing this to myself.  Actually, I do it quite frequently.  Yes, it adds extra stress, panic attacks and demands, but that is why I have taken up running.  It releases that pressure I place on myself.  

So here is my issue:  I am sure you are all aware that I am completing a masters degree right now.  I am well into my second semester and only have four left until graduation.  There is no break.  I am going every semester until I graduate.  Anyways, I constantly check and calculate my grades.  When I complete assignments, I check and recheck to make sure that I will get an A.  I accept nothing less than an A and get sort of frustrated with myself if I don’t get that A.  Bumped grading scales freak me out.  Don’t get me started on the anxiety I get when I see that 94% is the cutoff for an A.  Yes, some of this is learned from the undergraduate degree because I completed that with flying colors.  Yes, most of this is because I place those demands and expectations on myself.  I think I place more anxiety on these A’s during my masters program because I now know that I want that PhD and have this feeling that good schools won’t accept me for the doctoral program if I don’t have a 4.0.  My dreams are to apply to a few of the top 10 schools in my field.  They are extremely competitive, but, if you get in, you are studying under the greats in the field.  It’s an honor. Scary, but an honor. Sure, you have no life for the 4+ years you are there, but the challenges placed on you allow you to fix the flaws in the system.  That is what I want to do.  Fix the flaws.  Become a leader.  My dreams are nothing more than to sell all my things, book a plane ticket out of North Dakota and head to Vanderbilt or KU with only a suitcase of clothes.  It’s quite a life changing risk and far from home, but I would do it.  Anyways, I am assuming these schools accept nothing less than top grades and I want in. So, I will continue to push myself and place these demands on myself.  I am getting better at the anxiety piece of it.  Handling it gets better with time. 

On a side note, my co-writer friend and I started a new story (YAY!).  This story is based off two characters that sort of played a minor role in our first story.  It’s coming along quite well.  I do miss the main characters from the other story, but I am getting over it.  They will come back into the stories eventually.  One of the main characters in this story I can relate to.  She is studying to be a medical doctor and places the high academic demands on herself as well.  In a sense, she is a genius.  She is always studying (much like I am).  Her IQ is quite high and her mother places high academic demands on her.  So, she sort of acquired these demands she places on herself from her mother. It’s a learned behavior.  I never had high academic demands placed on me as a child and I am by no means gifted like this character (although I never tell people my IQ when they ask. Yes, I do know it.  I was tested in college during an assessment class I took.  Only few people know what it is.  It’s a secret.).  For me these academic demands were just something that happened.  I come from a large family.  Each sibling had their own thing.  They were good at sports, music, farming, mechanics, etc. As the youngest, teachers expected me to be good at everything in school because my siblings were.  I was compared and sick of it.  I wanted my own identity, so I took up academics and soared.  I was going to be the only sibling that was actually good at school.  I made that come true.  Was in honor society, graduated with honors in college and am now the only sibling pursuing advanced degrees.  So instead of having these demands placed on me, I placed them on myself.  It became my identity.  Anyways, back to this character.  She has no life because she is always studying.  I can definitely relate to her, but am not as extreme as her.  I live on my social life.  So, in the end, the story is coming along quite fabulously.  It really made me reflect on the academic demands I place on myself.    

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