“Oh! Here comes the topper, show-off!”

“Toppers”. I am sure few names might have popped up in your minds already reading this word. Each one of us has had some episodes with the toppers. We encounter them in every academic step of our lives and mostly undergo a hell of the time they create for us. Most of us have an unstated hatred towards these toppers as they have been the teachers’ pets, the so-called favorites, the ideal kids all parents dream of having.

I often hear people saying to them “You are a topper, how can you not know this silly thing?”, “Oh! Here comes the topper, show-off!”, and whatnot. I have always been intrigued by this behavior people have towards the toppers, why do they hate them or may I say why can’t they tolerate them? Throughout my academic life, I have come across a few and have made an attempt to classify them into certain categories (according to my observation). Let’s try to understand these toppers.

1. The know-it-alls — They shout the answers to everything, even if the question is never directed to them. They just can’t keep their calm.

Possibilities: They did this once and felt good about being able to answer some questions. And they continued doing this to relish their dopamine hits. OR They genuinely care about explaining or informing others about something they know. They really want to help others.

2. The snobs — They only talk to the academically elite. They don’t waste time on people who aren’t in their league.

Possibilities: They just enjoy vibing with the knowledgeable and erudite ones. They want to be surrounded by them for their benefit. OR They have never been educated on the fact that people have different talents and that everyone is a master of some or other skills. Maybe they were never taught about that in their childhood or never been rectified of such an attitude.

3. The hard-workers — These are the people who work assiduously and put in all their sincere efforts to achieve their goals. They don’t leave any stone unturned for something they have set their minds into.

Possibilities: They were told to work hard to achieve something as nothing in life comes easy. OR They are always focussed and they keep pushing their limits higher every time. They are perenially motivated to learn and keep themselves ahead in this world. Perseverance, punctuality, and striving for excellence are deeply embedded in them.

4. The read-once-remember-forever’s — These are the ones who are said to have eidetic memory. They never have to work hard for academics, it naturally gets retained in their brains for a long time. You will often find them enjoying their time with stuff they like.

Possibilities: As simple as it can be — their brains are wired that way. Call it genes or the person’s innate qualities, you can’t have it unless you train your brain really hard.

5. The lucky ones — They are the ones who top the class without having any intention to do so. They never study to win, they just happen to win somehow.

Possibilities: There are times when things happen unexpectedly beyond our control. Call it fortune, fate, etc. these people are just bestowed with unforeseen success at times.

6. The seekers — These are the ones who are persistently seeking and exploring their interests. They will make it their life’s purpose to learn about the unknown. They never stick to the routines or set approaches, they believe in having a meticulous and in-depth understanding of the concepts.

Possibilities: These curious creatures, by nature, can’t curb their whims to learn and gather insights about anything they like. OR Their inquisitiveness was hardly appreciated in their childhood, which made them search and seek the answers to their questions themselves.

Toppers are always seen in a different light than others. Teachers and tutors see them as the trendsetters and inspirations for their fellow mates and future generations. On the other hand, the fellow students see them as the idealists and mostly despise them for their sincerity and discipline in academics.

But if you really observe all students are the same except for the fact that these toppers take academics a bit more seriously than the rest. You will find the same (in fact higher) level of seriousness and diligence in other students for different domains like any form of art, sports, online games, technology, fashion, etc. They also possess the same undying drive to excel in their own fields.

Every child is the best actor, it’s just that they perform in different stages.

Toppers, decent scorers, failures, or losers — all these categories only exist because the education system evaluated and placed them so. These academic competitions have created divisions among students. And we all know, whenever there is a competition there has to be a winner.

If you subtract the competition from education system, you will find only students. No toppers, no failures.

Toppers are as human as any other person. They also seek genuine friendship, help, and care from others. They also fail in other aspects of life and undergo their share of struggles. We may have our own reasons to despise them but in the end, they are one of us. Shouldn’t they deserve a drop of empathy from us?

Thank you for your kind attention. Please share your thoughts on this and show some appreciation if this appeals to you. :)

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Sonalisa Patel

Sonalisa Patel

UX Designer at Zeta | Learning and exploring the unknown