I do think that figuring out at 18 – and not at 28 or 38 or 48, when the stakes are so much higher – that achievement for achievement’s sake is basically a zero-sum game is a very good thing. That increasing numbers of college-bound seniors are being forced to come to that realization is perhaps the one upside to today’s all-but-random college admissions game.Read the whole article here.
Many, I think, never figure out how to handle the emptiness that comes when the rush of achievement fades away, or the loneliness — the sense of invisibility — when no one is there to hand out yet another “A.” The fact is: when you are narrowly programmed to achieve, you are like a windup toy with only one movement in its repertoire. You’re fine when you’re wound up; but wind you down, and you grind to a halt.
I think this is partly why so many grown-up amazing girls with high-earning husbands find themselves having to quit work when they have kids. They simply can’t perform at work and at home at the high level that they demand of themselves.
I know exactly how they feel. And soon enough, I fear, this rising generation of superachievers may, too. And they’re not going to solve the problems merely — as optimists say — by doing a better job than my generation has done in advocating for policies that promote work/family “balance.” They’re going to have to balance some things out in their own minds. They’ll have to realize that — no matter what our culture shrieks, no matter what their college counselors push them to do in the name of achieving “well-roundedness” — they can’t be all things to all people, at all times, and still have something of meaning left over for themselves.
Looking Beyond the Brass Ring
As a follow-up to the "Amazing Girls" pieces from the NY Times lately, this is from an opinion article written by Judith Warner: