Gambling with your life, a darker side of excellence
The strive for excellence can have many roots, wanting to prove yourself, trying to be the best at something, it being an obligation of something you want reach, or, it being the response to attempt to minimize the chance of a disaster.
This is a personal story of 99% dedication and 1% horror.
Imagine making a gamble where you bet with 10-, 20- or 30.000-euro increments. The possible pay-out is unknown and countless events far outside your control can ruin the bet altogether, leaving you with several tens of thousands of euros in debt, lasting for decades afterwards with little you can do the moment it happens. Nowadays it is not uncommon for students to take out large loans to be able to study a degree, most notable being the USA, but thanks to the new loan system more common in the Netherlands as well. risking being heavily indebted at the start of your adult life has an interesting caveat. It can become the driver of excellence.
After graduating for a vocational degree in event technics I embarked on journey of perusing a bachelor degree. Unfortunately, my bank account was sitting at zero and the choice would mean I would be heavily indebted, regardless off if I made it or not. 99% of the time I worked hard or enjoy some spare time activities, however the last 1% I was reminded of the financial ruin I faced if I did not succeed. It would almost logical to think that doing everything to succeed would be a valid response. The greater the possible failure, the greater the energy investment you would make to succeed. hence, my strive for excellence.
Motivated to succeed I set out to do my best and take every opportunity to excel. Over the semesters I worked hard to get good grades and got involved in other business at the university, helping with open days, be a student representor and joined the honours program. While the majority where standard extra activities for most students, the honours program offered me an opportunity to do more, coach me and push me out of my comfort zone or test my limits. A program that is only for those that can excel. Being part of the honours program brought me some solace. It gave me the confirmation that I could be among those excelling lifted part of the weight. It felt as having decreased the chance of failure on my side.
when looking back on the situation the question becomes, was striving for excellence a goal? or a means? I certainly appreciate the knowledge, experience and support I gained during my search for excellence, but is hard to distinguish whether the effort was from the 99% of dedication, or from the 1% of horror driving my survival instinct. I do know I am not there yet nor am I out of the woods, so I will continue to strive for excellence.