The Student News Site of Shawnee Mission Northwest


The Student News Site of Shawnee Mission Northwest


The Student News Site of Shawnee Mission Northwest


All For an A

I’ve Always Craved Academic Validation
Cooper Evans
Studying, freshman Yohanna Ayana writes down notes Jan. 18 in the Library.

Everyone has heard the stereotype of immigrant parents who push their children to get perfect grades and to one day become a doctor, lawyer, or engineer.

 Obviously not everyone is the same, but in my case this stereotype was true. My parents always pushed me and my older sister to get all A’s and to become a doctor or lawyer. 

And it worked. 

We grew up consistently getting good grades. We were always getting glowing reviews from our teachers during parent-teacher conferences. Our parents were always so proud of us. And if we got a lower grade, they would try to help us. They were never the type to get angry with us over a grade. They never put an unhealthy amount of pressure on us. However, that doesn’t mean I didn’t feel it.

Experiencing all this academic validation only made me crave it more.

I began to obsess over my grades and what my teachers thought of me. I would sob over a B — which is a great grade — because I could not fathom not being the perfect, smart daughter. I would panic if my teacher told me and my friends to be quiet because I had to be the best student. 

Over the years, I began to despise school. The days felt longer, and I felt like I was on auto-pilot, just doing the bare minimum. It felt like I was dragging myself through school, just waiting to go home. The pressure began to feel like a physical weight on my chest, slowly dragging me down. The thing is, I didn’t know where all of this pressure had come from.

One day, one of my previous teachers and I were talking, and she asked me if I ever felt like the reason I thought I had to do so well in school was to show my parents that everything they did to get us here, and all their hard work, wasn’t for nothing. 

After that, I realized that I felt like I had an obligation to do well and succeed in school to prove to my parents that all that they had done and sacrificed to build a good future for us was not a waste. That their efforts to get us here weren’t taken for granted.

That was when I realized that the burden I felt on my shoulders for so long had been placed there by me. I felt the need to be perfect all the time because I didn’t want my parents to feel like they wasted their efforts. My parents never led me to believe they felt that way, but once I got into that headspace, I couldn’t get myself out for the longest time. 

It was not until school started getting harder and I got lower grades than I usually did that I realized always having to be perfect was not healthy or sustainable. I realized that I was the only person expecting me to be perfect, and that my family only ever wanted me to do my best. 

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