want need to be perfect.
This is a concern I’ve had to extract from my thoughts time and time again.
You see, since I was a young girl all I ever wanted was to do everything perfectly. Perfect grades? Check. Perfect hair? Check. Perfect outfit? Check, check, check. Seriously, I can remember being in 4th grade, sneaking through the playground yard gates, almost asking for a detention simply so I could run home and change because–heaven forbid!–I got a grass stain on my pants and couldn’t possibly get through the day looking like that.
But it wasn’t just those outward things I worried about perfecting. I always had to be the perfect child for my parents, the perfect student for my teachers, the perfect friend and the perfect athlete. I was constantly concerned about what everyone else thought of me–was I nice enough? Too nice? Am I weird? Am I cool? Am I good? Am I bad? Are they proud of me? Are they mad?
Thoughts ran wild in my head 24-7 as I catered to the needs of everyone else while also catering to my desire to be perfect.
Interestingly enough, I was never perfect.
I always fell short of what I envisioned was the ideal version of me. I was nominated for homecoming princess every year and never won (I always told myself it was rigged any way); I was elected to prom court but didn’t go home a queen (that title went to my best friend Erin); I made the varsity soccer team as a freshman but couldn’t seem to get along with the coach (and subsequently quit in a way I’ll have to explain another day); I was in the top 10 people in my graduating class but wasn’t the valedictorian (damn you, Angela Chen). I always had a good body but it was never the best (that title also went to Erin). I attended my dream college but didn’t get into the best college I applied to (but fuck Berkeley anyway). I always got the guy I wanted but could never quite get that girlfriend title (you know who you are). I always landed my “dream job” but it was never exactly as it seemed (Teach for America was the worst decision of my life so far).
And the list (yes, it’s sad that I have a list) goes on and on.
Through high school, college and now the “real world,” I constantly seek perfection and continue to fall short in my mind. I always believe I can be a kinder person, have a better body, more friends, a better sense of humor, a bigger passion. I expect myself to be the best daughter, friend, girlfriend and the hardest working person in my office or even in my spin class (which isn’t such a horrible thing, really).
I compare myself not only to other people, but, even worse, to the expectations I’ve upheld for myself.
Is it part of being a millennial and having everyone’s highlight reels at our fingertips (thank you Instagram) that we think we should be bigger and better and more amazing than we already are? Or is this just the world that’s been set up for us by preceding generations constantly encouraging perfection?
Well, um, REALITY CHECK: perfection doesn’t fucking exist.
I have to remind myself that every part of me and everything that makes up who I am right now is exactly as it should be. Of course I’ll always strive to be a better person tomorrow, but that doesn’t mean I can’t accept who I am today–blotchy skin, diminishing bank account, bad timing of inappropriate jokes and all!
If I wake up every morning and strive to be the best version of myself and know that I’ve given my all in this crazy, twisting roller coaster of a ride we call life, then what more is there?
I am where I’m supposed to be. I am not perfect, but I am enough.