Everyone was required to play two sports (though only one of them had to be competitive), and one day out of every six on our "modular" scheduling program (don't ask), our first period was devoted to "meetings"- which meant that everyone had to participate in at least a couple of clubs. Because we were also highly encouraged to start our own clubs, there was a pretty impressive (and entertaining) variety available (says a former member of the Table Tennis Federation, which considered ping pong to be an extreme sport). Because we were REQUIRED to play sports and join clubs and the like, I got a lot of experiences I might not have had otherwise. I played volleyball and basketball my freshman year to meet the sports requirements- loved one, hated the other, and spent the next three years on the varsity volleyball team, and four years after that playing intramural v-ball in college. I joined clubs that were completely foreign territory for me, and ended up staying with them for three or four years.
Still, with everything I did, there was a small, underlying element of competition- I didn't just want to do these things... I wanted to be good at them. Part of it was the extracurriculars-are-an-important-part-of-getting-in-to-colleges atmosphere, and part of it was just my personality and the fact that I have a really hard time turning down a challenge. I never did things just because they'd look good on my resume, but at the same time, if I was doing something, I wanted to do it really well.
The entire time I was in high school, there were two exceptions to this- two things that I did JUST because I loved them, things that I never felt competitive about and never felt any pressure to be better at. The first was dancing. I started taking ballet when I was three, and I've always loved it, and loved pushing myself and trying to train my body to do new things, but of everything I've ever done, dancing was the one thing that I never did competitively. No competitions. No awards. My dance studio was home and the other people there were family. I loved doing it, simple as that, and nothing else ever came into play.
As for the other thing I did after school that wasn't competitive in the least... that was writing. I wrote my first book (which, believe me, no one will ever see) my senior year in high school. And my second, third, and fourth. But like dancing, writing wasn't like everything else I did. It just sort of was. I submitted things, I got rejected (and rejected and rejected), but my whole perfectionist competitive whatchamacallit never clicked on the way it did with almost everything else. Writing was fun, and being published was a dream, not a goal.
My freshman year in college, I kept really busy, but the word "extracurriculars" never once crossed my mind. I tutored at a local elementary school, tried out for the mock trial team on a whim, played three seasons of IM volleyball, and joined a cognition lab. Over time, everything I did outside of class became like what dancing and writing were for me in high school. I did them. I worked hard at them. I loved them. But at the end of the day, whether or not I was "good" at them (and just how "good") didn't matter.
And that summer, I wrote Golden, which became my first published book.
So... any other perfectionists out there? Anyone braving the scary world that is the college application process? As far as after school activities go, what are/were your labors of love?