The curse of the successful student

Consider the student for whom school is easy. He succeeds at everything he does, he never has conflict that he needs to resolve, he doesn’t know what it is like to be lost. It is possible for this student to go through his schooling without having to do the work of becoming an individual. The world around him caters so perfectly to his strengths that he can just go along with it and not have to do any hard work on his identity.

Skip forward to when he’s 23. He’s just finished university, and he’s making decisions about his life: what should he do for work, what type of person does he want to be, what is he into? It’s quite possible that such a person has a long journey  of self-discovery ahead, for he has not had to start it until now.

Compare this person to the person for whom schooling and adolescence were difficult. He had conflict throughout his teen years, he had to build a different identity and find what worked for him. He built a foundation a lot earlier than the successful student, and failed earlier too, which means he built stronger resilience. He can thus take more risks and become more truly free in his adult years. If the successful student finally attains such a state, it will be years later.

The successful student is likely to have a quarter-life crisis, a moment of realisation that he does not know who he is, has no foundation and has to start living more consciously. Or he may drift along, searching and not knowing that it was his conformist and successful years in high school that had stunted his development.


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