What really separates (and connects) the achievers from the ‘average’

May 31, 2018 - 3:19 PM
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UP law student Chad Osorio shared a tweet that became viral since he condemned the "romanticizing" of celebrating average grades. His former professor, Florin Hilbay, warned that the student should be careful of his "condescending" words. (Art by Uela Badayos)

A tweet by a law student went viral for bashing the “romanticizing” of students’ average grades but former solicitor general and associate law professor Florin Hilbay called out the user, finding it “condescending.”

Their exchange of tweets brought to light how overachievers and average students view success.

Chad Osorio, a UP law student, shared his thoughts on social media posts that congratulated students for passing their subjects for the school year.

Two days later, Hilbay replied and called out Osorio for the latter’s “condescending” remarks about average grades.

Apparently, Osorio used to be Hilbay’s student. The former also followed up his thoughts in a series of tweets under the original post, saying that people should not get used to average standards.

Osorio likened it to government agencies performing in a mediocre way and getting praised whenever they fulfill their duties.

Hilbay explained that his reply to Osorio’s tweet was meant for everyone to be more careful in passing judgments, especially if it involves grades.

“There’s a story hiding behind every number—of struggle, pain, failure, etc.,” he said, referring to how students got their respective grades.

The achiever’s point of view 

Osorio explained that he meant well, saying that celebrating mediocrity results in a kind of culture where people accept everything average.

“I believe in the human spirit, at its ability to conquer the greatest odds. I believe in celebrating little achievements and survival. But to set survival as our standard? We have the potential to be more,” he said.

He noted that he should’ve used “kinder words” but went against it since it might not “generate as much reaction” from the public.

Psychologist Carl Beuke believes that “achievement motivated” individuals have certain convictions that make them different from everyone else.

They think of success as their “personal responsibility,” Beuke said. These individuals also see demanding tasks—especially where success is uncertain—as opportunities instead of threats.

Beuke noted that these types of individuals view the whole process of achieving as “enjoyable” and “valuable.”

High achievers or achievement motivated individuals feel as if attaining success is a form of their personal responsibility. (Creative Commons/Stock photo)

He added that they value hard work “in and of itself.” This makes them achieve their tasks with complete dedication, concentration, commitment and involvement.

Achievement-motivated people believe they can consistently improve their skills with enough practice. However, those who are scared of failure tend to look on their skills as a fixed state.

Individuals such as Osorio also believe in the saying, “If at first, you don’t succeed, try and try again.” They believe that continuous persistence pays off, unlike others who think that failure at the first attempt is a negative “sign of things to come.”

Grades do not define worth

There are others who slammed Osorio’s view on average and barely passing grades, saying that numbers do not measure an individual’s worth.

When a user pointed out that Osorio also referred to how people have lowered their standards in real life—such as the competency of government agencies—Twitter user “The Buffel” replied that Osorio only used it as a supporting idea.

Others condemned Osorio for promoting a kind of thinking that may result in depression if a certain kind of success is not attained by an individual.

Longtime school counselor and freelance writer Sara Lindberg noted that “the pressure on children to achieve high levels of academic success is overriding the joy of education and making kids anxious and depressed.”

Through the perspective of a parent, literature teacher Jess Burnquist shared that she doesn’t mind if her daughter receives average grades in school.

She admitted that even though it is used as the “main standard of measurement” for academic success, it is stressful for the child in the long run.

“Grades do not reflect her humor, her musicality, her immense passion for social justice, or her empathy,” Burnquist said.

For the teacher, the important thing is that her daughter “accepts and values herself” as a person. “If she can acknowledge the areas in which she doesn’t shine, she can challenge herself to improve,” she said.

Students are advised to indulge in recreational activities that will take their mind off academics in order to avoid feeling overwhelmed or burnt out. (Wikimedia Commons/Stock photo)

Emma Seppälä, science director of Stanford University’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education, adviced students — that they should always “take care of themselves” in order to lead a “happy, healthy, and fulfilling life.”

She recalled that she used to be an overachiever as well, which led to her feeling anxiety and skipping sleep. “Ironically, the more we push ourselves, the quicker we burn out, and the less we can achieve over time,” Seppälä said.

Hard work should be balanced with “restorative activities” like sleep, exercise, a well-balanced diet, meditation, nature walks and general time allotted for rest.

“Research shows that these basic yet essential self-care habits result in greater focus and productivity, not to mention increased creativity, better decision-making, and stronger emotional intelligence,” the science director said. — Art by Uela Badayos