“Oh yeah, they definitely peaked in high school.” I’ve heard variations of this sentence all too many times. Whether people are using this term in regards to themselves or others, it is almost always used disparagingly.
People throw around the term “peaking” in reference to an individual or group of people who have reached their prime in some sort of activity or phase of life.
I do not believe this is an actual phenomenon. Whether we are saying it seriously or sarcastically, we need to stop saying “I/he/she/we/they have peaked.”
For starters, using the term about someone else is unnecessary. This goes back to the classic line you hear in elementary school, “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” Sure, sometimes we don’t intentionally use this term in a malicious way. However, there is nothing to gain from forming an unfair opinion on someone else’s personal timeline and success.
Ultimately, forming judgments about the people around us can only negatively affect us. For example, when I arrived back to BU this fall, I constantly was asking and answering the “how was your summer” question.
Especially among my COM colleagues, the most popular response to this was an overview of their summer internship. Almost everyone I talked to seemed to have fallen in love with their internship and were eager to share stories from their experiences.
Here’s the thing, I never once thought to myself that any of them were peaking (obviously by the title of this blog, you know I don’t believe in this). However, I did begin to doubt my own capabilities. As someone who learned a lot from their internship but did not necessarily fall in love with it, I was intimidated, even a bit jealous. I so badly wished I could have come back feeling confident in what I wanted to pursue after college, or even next summer.
My point in sharing this is to highlight that even when we are not directly stating that someone else has “peaked,” the peaking mindset can creep in. By this, I mean that I compared myself to others and let their experiences and success make me wish that I had done better or enjoyed myself more.
Therefore, the biggest flaw with the peaking conspiracy is that it causes us to compare ourselves to others’ success, timelines, goals, experiences, etc.
When I have overheard peers or friends use the term “peaking” about themselves, it has usually been in a comedic, sarcastic way. Their tone should make it easy to laugh with them, and for a moment maybe we do. However, even if the conversation only lasts a mere moment, I have noticed an underlying self-critical inclination in their voice and viewpoint.
We tend to look back at our accomplishments and sense that we have peaked when we currently feel like we are at a low point. If we did truly believe peaking exists, wouldn’t that be incredibly disappointing? What else would we have to look forward to? Again, the peaking mindset takes over and whether we are kidding or not, it can alter our motivation, mood and self-confidence.
Rather than comparing ourselves to others or mocking our own prior personal success, we should celebrate others’ success and let it inspire us. We should recognize our own strengths and accomplishments, regardless of their magnitude.
One of the most authentic things we can do is to simply be ourselves. There is no right or wrong timeline to follow. There is so much to learn from those around us, so instead of comparing yourself to others, congratulate them on their victories and continue pushing forward until you have your own.
At times, we may feel like we are peaking, but this implies that we are about to start heading on a downward slope. Work on changing your vantage point. Accept yourself, set goals, take your time, ask for help, don’t give up. Continuous effort and perseverance does not mean you are failing, it means you’re making progress.
There’s lots of mountains to climb so let’s stop declaring when we are peaking and assuming that this can only happen once. The descent down requires just as much energy as the ascent upwards. So let’s appreciate the journey.