Way back in senior year of high school, you were probably so jealous of whoever was voted "Most Likely to Succeed," weren't you? Okay, probably not. But have you ever thought of the long term psychological effects of trying to live up that? We certainly wouldn't know what that's like, but apparently it's not very easy! In fact, many see it as "a curse" later in life.
The Wall Street Journal today looks at some poll numbers of people who were voted "Most Likely to Succeed" and as it turns out, about one-third of them hate it later in life. Take Blake Atwood, now a 30-year-old copywriter in Texas. He was bestowed the honor, but later found that "being noosed with 'most likely to succeed' is like lugging an albatross to every job interview, new relationship or writing endeavor." This kind of lasting damage has caused many high schools across the country to drop their senior superlatives polls:
Schools are veering away from senior-class "superlatives" polls. Kelly Furnas, executive director of the Journalism Education Association at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kan., estimates that about 25% of high-school yearbooks still name one or more students "most likely to succeed," down from about 75% two decades ago. One reason, says Mike Hiestand, an attorney in Ferndale, Wash., and legal consultant to the nonprofit Student Press Law Center, Arlington, Va., is that some labels, such as "worst reputation" or "most likely to have a conversation with himself," can raise legal concerns about damaging students' future prospects.
However, not everyone is burdened with the label. Sakita Holley petitioned her classmates for "Most Likely to Succeed," which she won, and then got "success" tattooed on her back and named her PR firm "House of Success." Six years after graduation, she tells the paper that success "governs my life." In other words, she took that shit and owned it.
But enough about these success-crazed overachievers and after-the-fact crybabies. Do you ever think back to the people who were named "Most Likely to End Up in Jail," or "Most Likely to Burn Through Five Marriages," or perhaps "Most Likely to Join a Cult," and where they might be today? Now that would be an interesting story.
The takeaway here? High school still sucks long after it's over.