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Killing The Academic Validation Demon

Whats The Secret?

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By Vedika Patel | 21st May, 2023

Still relying on academic validation? No more. Discover what academic validation actually is and control your own life with useful tips that aid you get rid of the ‘must be perfect’ mindset as you realize how harmful academic validation can be.


Many students today, maybe even including you, feel this immense pressure to excel academically, wherein you're equating your self-worth with your grades. It's not anything foreign; if you were to count, the days spent stressing over a grade would be more than what you can count on your fingers.

Whether this pressure is sourced from parents, teachers, academic rivals, or even yourself, it doesn't change the fact that academic validation eats you from the inside out. Giving your blood, sweat, and tears for academics is growing more and more common; students are selling their **souls** to get the confirmation of competence that 'yes, indeed I am smart, I am capable, and I have worth,' which barely lasts for even a moment, and instantly gets replaced by a fear of failure. While a desire to succeed and do well in school is admirable, when your goal turns into your life revolving around an A*, it's time to change. Academic validation is a beast that only YOU can tackle, so this is how you're going to do it and prevent yourself from living a life that you can't enjoy.

Where Does This Originate From?

This need to continually excel at academics could originate from many sources, most commonly, the parents set high goals for their children that are difficult and perhaps unlikely to achieve, which disappoints both the parent and child.

Apart from this, being in a competitive academic environment or even around academically excellent students could cause you to look at yourself degradingly for not being as good as the others, which makes you WANT to outperform your peers.
However, sometimes there is no external pressure; instead, you are setting goals and living for the applause… literally. This may be because of a specific goal that you're trying to achieve, like getting into a top college like Harvard.

Academic Validation — Why So Against It?

Doesn't it technically act as fuel to drive us to succeed? In some cases, yes, it helps you achieve your goals; however, in most cases, it turns so that you end up basing your entire worth on whether you meet the target.

This has many drawbacks, as it affects your mental well-being since you're constantly degrading, comparing, and hating yourself. It also excessively stresses you out and causes you to socially isolate yourself from others and experience countless burnouts, which all take a HUGE toll on your mental health.

In many cases, academic validation, in the long run, drastically declines a student's grade and educational status as they want a way to escape the monster controlling their lives. So, how do you get rid of it without risking your future?

Breaking The Mold

After you understand how bad this cycle of letting academics validate you and be a mood-maker or breaker, you must practice getting rid of that mindset. This you can do by:

  • Killing the reputation-dependent mindset: you must constantly remind yourself that others' opinions shouldn't intervene with how you're living your life. You can do this by repeating positive affirmations daily and attempting to make small changes every day.

2. Developing an identity outside of school: Get a life, guys! Expand your social circle, and don't limit yourself just to academics! There are multiple things besides school you should focus on, which will consume time and not give you plenty of time to think about academics. And what's more, they will make you more wholesome.

  • Gaining sight of what makes you happy: figure out what you like - experiment and try out. Haven't you heard that 'All work and No Play makes Jack a dull boy'? Pursue your *play*! Remember that academics aren't the only thing that guarantees you a promising future or a spot at Princeton, but a strong passion in other fields brings up your chances.
  • Grow from failures and learn from mistakes: ACCEPT failure! Failure is a part of life, and you will stumble and fall - it's only sometimes essential to be accurate and precise or know everything; that's no fun. Let others teach you; let failure lead you. Wrong answers only teach you the right ones. They are NOT obstacles.
  • Only put in your 80% — In the video, The Secret to my Productivity, Hank Greens manages expectations of himself by only putting in his 80%. He does so because each person has their perception of 'perfection,' and this perception is subject to change. The idea of anything 'perfect' isn't carved in stone and is somewhat subjective, which makes it impossible to reach.
  • Take it easy and give it time. Everything and everyone in the world is not perfect, nor do you have to be. Everyone has a capacity and limit. Don't let others or yourself push you over it or define “you”.

Absorb these pointers, and always remember that practicing a hobby or anything other than academics will help you eliminate this academic validation demon in the back of your head. You must note that excess of anything is always bad, which applies to academics too! Live your life joyfully, not in a continuous cycle of trying to fit into a mold that isn't the size for you.

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