DOES IT BOTHER YOU: Your peers are more than just a grade


Staff photo

Time’s up! Pencils down. All students can agree that one of the most nerve-wracking components of high school is taking tests. When I enter a class the day we are finding out the results of an assessment, I am always overcome with a feeling of uneasiness. Over the years, I have figured out that the churning in my stomach has not originated from the impending grade, but rather the aftermath that occurs when the shrilling bell marks the end of the period that day. The true anxiety-producing adversary is the four dreaded words that are too often spoken, the first question asked when the folded up pieces of papers are placed upon our desks. “What did you get?” 

This jumble of words seem to flow out of the mouths of every student at West Essex, as a means of flaunting their exceptional grades to their fellow classmates. In all cases, this scenario is a double-edged sword. Responding with a better grade than the asker can come off as cocky, and reporting a lower one can inflict feelings of self-doubt. Students have enough on their plate with a heaping serving of responsibilities and schoolwork alike, and this pressure is an unnecessary provoker of stress within our lives. 

Unfortunately, the “what did you get” mentality is carried from test grades into any and all aspects of high school. Whether it is SAT scores, AP tests, or college applications, students maintain the constant desire to compare themselves to others. Too often, individuals thrive off of the failures of their classmates, and bash their success. I believe that this obnoxious conversation starter has become alarmingly normalized. Students do not hesitate to spread the achievements and downfalls of others, with a complete disregard for their feelings and well-being. 

This same disgusting pattern of behavior carries on from the classrooms to the sports fields as well. As West Essex is famously known for their athletic accolades, the sports atmosphere becomes extremely cutthroat and competitive. Whether they are the captain of the varsity team, or have never picked up a soccer ball, people are concerningly quick to tear down athletes. One of the first questions commonly asked when I tell someone I play a sport is “are you good.” They don’t care about my passion for the sport, or when I started playing, their top priority is placing me on the invisible ranking they hold in their minds. 

Individuals would rather spread negative information than congratulate a fellow classmate, which is truly unethical. Many categorize a person’s worth based upon their academic standing or sports ranking, rather than their nature as a person, which is a trend that should immediately fade away. I think that students should not be so caught up in everyone else’s business, and revert their attention to spreading positivity rather than these brutal acts of immaturity. 

What most fail to understand is that expressing happiness for another classmates’ triumph does not negatively impact themselves in any way. People need to look past the class ranks, and into the hearts of their fellow students.