The affects of pressure on students’ personal best


Freshman Parnya Danesh takes down one of her campaign posters after losing the position for sophomore vice president. Danesh felt that she put in a lot effort into her campaign and wouldn’t have done anything differently because she did her best. Photo by: Dayeon Jeong


Catherine Gagulashvili cub writer
Dayeon Jeong cub writer
For the Norman Nation, from students to athletes to performers, the concept of “personal best” is a bit hazy. While standards society has set or external influences have imposed may dictate that achieving one’s “personal best” must be tangible, like winning a first place trophy or receiving a diploma from an Ivy League school, the meaning of “personal best” is truly defined by each individual’s own terms.
At Beverly, many perceive a pressure to be the best, seemingly defined by administrators, teachers and the overall competitive atmosphere as being at the top of your class, team or group.
“[Personal best is] having a specific goal and to keep on improving on it each time,” sophomore Ava Hekmati said.
Hekmati, who takes some of Beverly’s arguably most rigorous classes, feels as though her own terms of being her best and others’ terms of being the best sometimes differ.
“You have an external pressure and an internal pressure. They’re both very constant, especially in school. There’s a stigma of how an ‘A’ is the best thing and is the only option, especially being in Honors or AP classes,” Hekmati said.
In addition to students developing their own internal pressures to be the best, institutions, from middle schools to universities, often leads to high stress in a student’s life by constantly ranking students and putting utmost importance on raw test scores. However, the way that students cope with this pressure, to either fuel their motivation or discourage them, along with the various social and personal challenges, varies.
“If I wasn’t in school and I didn’t have that pressure, I probably wouldn’t try as hard…because I wouldn’t care as much,” Hekmati said.
Academic pressure is relevant to every student at Beverly and those who participate in extracurricular activities, such as competitive sports, recognize yet another source of pressure.
“Personal best is winning and doing better than what you did last time,” freshman Chantal Moawad said.
As the starting center on the girls’ varsity basketball team, Moawad, who has been playing competitively for 10 years, had 10.1 points per game and 11.5 boards on top of two blocks (according to MaxPreps).
“Being a very good player puts a lot of pressure on me to win games for my team. Everybody at school that comes to watch the games expects me to be great,” Moawad said.
Playing a team sport, particularly one that has set the bar for expectations high, induces stress on Moawad before games. When feeling overwhelmed, she looks to her teammates for support and encouragement.
“If I feel like I’m having a bad game, my teammates are always there and they always lift me up. They always cheer for me. They say ‘Chantal, come on, we need to do this, we need you.’ They support me and they try to make me happier. I get down on myself a lot and people on my team always bring my spirits up. Once my spirits are up, I play better. We’re all like sisters; we all love each other and support each other,” Moawad said.
Being on a team helps Moawad be the best she can be, while simultaneously dulling the pressure she feels to be the best. Team sports allow players to carry the weight of expectations and pressure to produce results more evenly than in individual sports.
“Succeeding isn’t about being better than everyone else, but doing the best that you can do,” junior Jonathan Artal said.
Artal competes as a part of the varsity swim team. He believes that the effort an individual puts in can outweigh the final result.
“Personally, I’m much more impressed by a person who works hard and gets a slow time, than somebody who slacks and gets a fast [time],” Artal said.
Artal’s swim captain, senior Sara Okum, commented that swim is only competitive “if you make it competitive.”
Because swimming is an individual sport, competition takes on a different meaning for each individual who can decide how hard he or she will compete.
“It would be hard to go through high school making everything a competition,” Artal said. “I think it’s important to balance your own hard work with the recognition that we’re all in this together.”
Performers, such as those in choir, also derive an idea of what “personal best” means to them. They are able to do so through auditioning and trying their hardest.
“Personal best means achieving goals that you, as an individual, have set for yourself,” freshman singer Willa Ziegenfuss said.
When auditioning for the Madrigals choir group, the most advanced choir group at Beverly, Ziegenfuss felt that while everyone wanted her to succeed, they never pushed her to the point where she felt overwhelmed.
She feels both discouraged and motivated if she’s dissatisfied with her attempts to achieve her personal best.
“There is always room for improvement when I don’t succeed, but there is a euphoria in the act of trying to succeed and stepping out of your comfort zone,” Ziegenfuss said.
When auditioning for the Madrigals choir group, the most advanced choir group at Beverly, Ziegenfuss felt that while everyone wanted her to succeed, they never pushed her to the point where she felt overwhelmed.
“I put pressure on myself because I wanted to be accepted into [Madrigals] but [auditioning] wasn’t a life or death situation and I knew that if I didn’t get in, I would be okay,” Ziegenfuss said.
Most students on campus have come to the conclusion of what “personal best” means to them. From that, they are able to use their definition in their day-to-day lives, achieving whatever it is they believe is their best.

Personal Best
 Infographic by: Catherine Gagulashvili and Dayeon Jeong