Tired of the pressure of being perfect?

Why Jasmine Ortega ‘22 has decided that being perfect isn’t worth stressing over.


Jasmine poses with friends in front of West High.

Jasmine Ortega was ending her freshman year, but it felt like it hadn’t happened because the time seemed to speed by. And the future felt like impending doom. So, starting sophomore year, she is determined to live in the moment. Not letting the future take away the present.

Jasmine Ortega has been known for her stellar work ethic; striving for perfection whether it comes to school, or cross country. She has always been motivated to give everything her best effort, and gain the most out of every experience. But, today, she is focusing on being present rather than being perfect.

“Honestly, I was getting really nervous about the future. And I was thinking too much about like everything,” Ortega said. “And I was like, okay, you know, you need to stop, enjoy your time now. While you still have it now. And then later you can worry about the future.”

Jasmine came into Freshman year listening to the same speeches that many before had heard too. West High School is known as a high performing school academically, musically, and athletically. And the teachers and coaches are not afraid to let you know it.

“Because walking into freshman year we had that speech at 9th grade orientation. And I was like, oh, number one school. Okay, better, keep going up,” Ortega said. “And then I walked into, cross country practice. And they’re like, oh, you know, really good. We’re prestigious. We’re such a good program. I was like, Oh, okay. And then, same thing, orchestra. Really? Oh, this is such a good program. This is really prestigious. And well, it’s a lot to handle. And although it’s spread out over a bunch of people. It’s kind of like, wow, that’s crazy.”

“I think there’s a lot of like self pressure, just feeling that you need to perform well, in cross country meets, but then also at school,” said Lucy Westemeyer ‘21, Jasmine’s cross country teammate. “And so it just kind of happens naturally.”​

Keeping up West High’s performance can be very motivating, Ortega explains. Certainly during the beginning of the year when everyone is excited for the year. This mentality helps you become your best and perform your best. But, she said that towards the end of the year, especially during May, the notorious AP test month, the pressure can get suffocating.

“Near the end of the school year, especially in May last year, I know, everyone was stressed,” Ortega said. “And it was really bad. And everyone started slacking off. Because there was so much to do that, they’d be like, Oh, let me put off this one assignment. So I can do this other one, then you’d end up being way behind and it wasn’t good, because it was too much.”

A similar depiction of May was painted by Jasmine’s close friend Shelby Adamic ‘22. May was also overwhelming for Shelby just with the mere workload given, and the time frame to do it.

“May was like the big thing right like everything came together and it was a mess. It was like, I had at least two or three assignments a night and in every class, and it was pages and pages of it. And I just want to go to bed,” said Shelby “I feel like I have to be the best, and I have to do super good, but sometimes I just physically can’t.“

May was like the big thing right like everything came together and it was a mess.”

— Shelby Adamic ‘22

The pressure of high school can be extremely high. Whether it be from yourself, your friends/family, or even your school. You plan out your classes for the rest of high school as an assignment; Ortega said that this assignment caused a lot of stress, with credits involved, and load of future courses. The pressure can build up to a point where students think that they need to be perfect to be able to go to college, get a good job, have a nice income. This type of mindset can lead to problems, Ortega said; you start to think about the future all of the time, when is the next test, counting down the days until graduation. Thinking like this time flies by, and you miss it.

“I feel like, especially looking back at time, elementary school, junior high, it all flew. But, during that time it felt like it was just so long. I just wanted to get out of school. I wanted to be done. Now I’m like, Oh, dang, this is the last, high school is really the last chunk of your school.” said Ortega. “And it seems to last at the beginning it seems like it’s gonna last forever. But I’m not sure it’s gonna, because one year already flew by. And that was crazy. And looking back, I don’t remember what happened last year, it was just so fast.”

And it seems to last at the beginning it seems like it’s gonna last forever. But I’m not sure it’s gonna, because one year already flew by. ”

— Jasmine Ortega '22

This is why she has decided to take a step back and enjoy her remaining time here at West. Keeping her stress down and not overthinking the small things. She is taking her first AP course this year, but she is not stressing about the AP test in May. She is staying on top of her AP course, and what happens, happens. She is still unsure about what occupation or even college she is aiming for, like 55% of all other American high schoolers. Therefore, she does not want to worry about unnecessary things, because if she does, she could start playing the “What If” game again.

“I feel like right now I’m trying to work on, taking that down a notch. I mean, it’s okay, if you don’t have perfect grades, It’s Okay. I mean, good grades are something you should want but not perfect. For example, Oh my gosh, I got a B on this assignment. What am I going to do? Freak out? Because I feel that just leads to too much, I don’t know, it leads to people being really nervous about, everything that happens.” -Ortega 22’

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