The Phillips Academy Ego

Picture this. It was six in the evening Sunday night at the rest stop on the Massachusetts-Connecticut border. A yellow school bus rolled in, parked between two mini vans, and the driver slid open the doors. Suddenly, 40 smug Andover kids tumbled out of the bus into the parking lot. The swarm of students, all clad in their best “Western Business Attire,” ran to the doors. Some were running to the bathroom, but the majority sprinted with food as their motivation. They rushed the entrance, and once inside, lunged towards the food stands. We must have been a strange spectacle for everyone else present. We were a blur of blazers and high heels that assailed the small Papa Gino’s counter. But it wasn’t just our peculiar appearance which made us stand out in comparison to the rest of the tired and irritated travelers. It was our attitude which really stuck out. Each debater held that unmistakably cocky grin distinctive to our PA campus. We were all still immersed in raucous discussion about the successful debates we just dominated an hour before. Our boisterous statements were easily audible to the rest of the hall. I laugh to think what some travelers must have thought after hearing comments such as “I completely destroyed that miserable Hotchkiss debater” and “Can you believe that St. Paul’s kid? He wanted to raise crude oil prices!” coming from kids dressed in bright blazers and multi-colored sweater vests. Even the group of cheerleaders ordering McDonald’s, scantly clad in sequined leotards and masked by caked-on makeup, seemed more natural to the environment compared to us. We walked around that rest stop like we owned the place, but quite frankly, our large egos blinded us from our obnoxiously cocky behavior. At Andover, we all take harder classes, exhaust ourselves for our sport teams, and study for an infinite number of hours. Consequently, our SAT scores tend to be higher, our sport teams usually win, and many of us will go to phenomenal colleges. But does this give us a right to cocky feelings? Frankly, I think it does. We work incredibly hard, and are for the most part incredibly successful. These unique circumstances naturally lend to a campus filled with remarkably large egos. And in this respect, our smug behavior is not actually our fault. Simply put, attending this school makes us naturally disposed to big-headedness. But please, Andover students, remember your humility! Of course we have a right to feel successful, but by no means do we have the right to act superior around our outside peers. Try to avoid situations when your obviously higher standards lead to embarrassment. A friend of mine recently recounted a story of her completely unintentional Andover ego getting the better of her and the excruciatingly uncomfortable situation that ensued. Sometimes we forget that the “Bunker Hill Community College joke” is only funny to us. She described a situation when one of her friends from home named his college choices. After listing the local community college as one of his options, she responded with a retort of “Wait, are you serious?” He was. She worries that friendship will never be the same. Understandably, we might feel surprised that some actually consider attending the local community college. We are living in an environment where average is not good enough. But please, keep your high standards to yourself. I asked some people how they felt about the phenomenon of the Andover ego. One comment shone above the others: We are better. When I asked what right she had to make such a statement, this anonymous student simply remarked how special she was.