Andover’s paths were unusually crowded this week, filled with hundreds of new faces for Spring Revisit Days. Newly-admitted students came to campus, and host students guided them through a typical day at Andover. While on campus, prospective students saw only the best parts of Andover, as students and faculty alike put on their brightest faces in order to encourage students to matriculate. Yet, as students who are constantly immersed in the intense environment at Andover, we know all too well that beneath this façade, Andover is not a perfect place filled with perfect students.
At Andover, we strive for excellence in everything we do. The campus’s competitive culture stems from an inherent need to constantly compare ourselves to others. This mentality causes us to trivialize our accomplishments and agonize over our shortcomings. Yet we put up false fronts, outwardly exuding confidence in an effort to conceal our insecurities. We bury our internal struggles and are ashamed of our failures, which come more often than we’d like to admit.
Many of us on campus chase after the myth of “the perfect Andover student,” who has achieved academic, athletic, extracurricular, and social success, and has done so with the utmost ease. We want to be superhuman, and it is because we set such high expectations for ourselves that we constantly feel as though our best efforts are still not good enough.
But, “the perfect Andover student” does not exist because we, as a community, are not all the same. We come from a diversity of backgrounds, we speak from innumerable perspectives, we love different things, and we pursue different passions. As we work towards something imaginary, perpetuating a dangerous notion of flawlessness, we limit and confine ourselves to one definition of perfection.
If, as our school seal states, the end does in fact depend upon the beginning, we wish the best to those revisit students who began their Andover journey this week. We hope that when they arrive in September, they do not fall into the trap of idolizing “the perfect Andover student.” And for those of us who are already here, it is our responsibility to embrace the reality that success and happiness come in many different forms.
This editorial represents the views of The Phillipian*, vol. CXXXIX.*