• Catherine Liu


Updated: Dec 30, 2018

Self-improvement. Sounds like a positive idea right? Self-improvement is supposed to mean learning from our mistakes and growing to become the best versions of ourselves. While in high school, the primary area we attempt to self-improve in is academics. We strive to get good grades, and succeed in school. But where do these academic expectations come from and why do different people have different standards? This happens because students don’t push themselves to self-improve until they see others succeeding. We see no reason to work hard until we see others surpassing us. For example, in a school such as Jericho, there are many students who study hard and get straight A+’s. This compels other students to strive for the same grade. They end up raising their standards too high, stressing themselves out, and failing at surpassing those who they worked after. However, in a school where most students don’t get A’s or even B’s, nobody feels the need to work harder. They are happy with their current situations because their peers are doing just as bad as they are. They feel no need for change or self-improvement. Ironically, people only self-improve because of other people. We don’t feel the need to self-improve when everyone else is in the same situation that we are in. In other words, self-improvement in society and high schoolers isn’t driven by oneself, rather it is caused by other people's success.

Society is driven through competition and comparison. As we grow up, we live our lives being constantly compared to each other by teachers, parents, and eventually ourselves. When compared to those what are doing better than us, we feel inferior and adjust our standards to improve ourselves and achieve more. We are driven by our peers to work hard, and seek to rise above one another. Instead of trying to be the best of ourselves, we try to be the best at achieving other people’s goals.

This begs the question, is it really considered self-improvement if it is driven by others? It shouldn’t be. This type of self-improvement has turned society into nothing more than a rat-race where everyone from students in elementary schools to entrepreneurs running their businesses are trying to oust one another. Everyone is being compared to see who is winning the “race”. This is not a positive way of encouraging self-improvement, and it shouldn’t be considered so. People who try to surpass those who are ahead of them will raise their expectations too high for themselves and end up failing. They develop self-doubt issue, and stress over themselves, taking a toll on their mental health.  

Instead of comparing themselves to others, self-improvement should be based on striving to outdo oneself. Teenagers in high school face fierce competition, which motivates them to self-improve. However, they should also strive to self-improve even if they are on top of the competition. In order to grow as people, we should improve based on our own standards and limitations, instead of through what we see other people doing

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