I will break my shell of anonymity to say that I was the person who asked this question
(please read it so that this post makes sense). I am now a junior, still at the same school and still struggling with my need to do my very best with my academics. As I stated in my previous post, schoolwork takes up every minute of every day not dedicated to work, class, and meals. How can I stop caring so much about doing well?
This summer, I had my first restaurant job, and I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. It was wonderful working in such an interesting environment with people my own age, as opposed to working a previous office job that paid well but wasn't fun at all. In spite of myself, I've taken a lot of what my mother has said to heart:"Do well in school so you can get a good job and make good money," etc. I have come to realize the flaw in her line of thinking, but when you grow up with that advice all of your life, you tend to internalize it, whether you mean to or not. But this summer job led to an epiphany: there are other ways for me to grow as a person and have a fulfilling life besides making good grades. There are other things for me to learn besides topics that are strictly academic, such as how to come out of my shell more and become better at interacting with people. Feeling high on life from my summer experience, I returned to school, determined to enjoy myself more by caring less about academics.
Well, that determination has gone down the toilet.
Besides the factors mentioned in my other question, I guess part of my motivation stems from the people around me. The student body here is so intelligent that I feel the intense need to keep up with my peers, or at the very least make my teachers think that I belong here. Another thing motivating me is the fact that everyone says a liberal arts education is supposed to endow you with the ability to think critically, and since I feel that I am especially lacking in that area, I need to do everything I can to make sure I develop it, so I never skip or skim readings. The frustrating part about that is a lot of my fellow classmates will have all these intelligent, analytical things to say in discussion and I rarely finish a reading with the same level of insight. I really need time to reflect on what I read before I come up with something intelligent, and there’s the rub: I don’t have the time to do that because I have other readings or work I need to complete. It’s very disheartening that I have to work this hard to do what comes to others so naturally, and even when I do speak up in class, what I have to say isn't as deep as what others have said.
I acknowledge that I should seek counseling, and while I do intend to talk with someone about this issue, the counseling center at my school isn’t very accessible. It’s difficult to make appointments for the same week that you call, so I’m never able to deal with my anxieties right away. I’ve also heard that students are only allowed a certain number of visits. That’s why I’m posting this here. Dear MeFites, please give me your words of wisdom!