Stone Backpack of Perfectionism

December 4, 2017
By amandarichmond BRONZE, Reading, Massachusetts
amandarichmond BRONZE, Reading, Massachusetts
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

I walk treacherously back to my dorm with a stone backpack of perfectionism. It haunts me daily. I get to my dorm. I take off my backpack. In my stone backpack of perfectionism is filled with preconceptions. These preconceptions are like red markers. When I see red on my paper I get scared because I know that means my work wasn’t good enough. My preconceptions vary from thinking “I will fail”, “I won’t make the word count”, “My professor won’t understand where I’m coming from”, “My grammar will be incorrect”, “My ideas won’t be clear”. 

The more red bold markers that fill my backpack the heavier it weighs me down. These red markers represent the preconceptions that fill my backpack. These preconceptions started from when they were my reality. When I was younger seeing an F wasn’t something new. Making the word count was a shocker for me. A teacher understanding where I’m coming from never happened. My thoughts were always all over the place. Seeing my grammar correct was a rare occasion. My ideas were usually just as all over the place as my thoughts were. Each preconception is its own red marker. These red markers have made me feel petrified as a kid and still do now.

These preconceptions and need for perfection started at a very young age. Since I can remember I’ve always strived for perfection especially in school. Due to having a learning disability school has always been a struggle but that’s never stopped me from trying to be perfect. Inside my backpack are blocks. The blocks are from testing. When I had to do testing there was a block activity when you would use blocks to match a picture. The pressure that was put on me when testing as a child made me feel anxious.

Perfectionism to me is like a phobia, it’s the fear of making a mistake. I feel as though the results of my mistake will be catastrophic when I do make a mistake. This catastrophic mistake is like a black hole to me. The black hole is life less and draining. It sucks out my ability to write, focus, and fathom ideas. This black hole weighs me down even more than the red markers do.

Having an abusive father never made anything easier. Although the idea of someone may seem light, my dad is the heaviest object in my backpack. The pressure of him always around makes me always strive for perfection in fear of what he may do if I don't reach it. Since I can remember I’ve always felt as if I was walking on eggshells. My dad always expected perfection and nothing less. Because of that I always strived for it. Having something less than perfect meant consequences and that scared me so I always tried my best to please him. When I lived with my dad it was always unexpected as to what was going to happen. 

Carrying around a stone backpack of perfectionism is like having a constant reminder to try to be perfect but it always backfires because perfection isn’t easy nor is it real. Unfortunately, for myself and for people like me that strive for perfection they end up in a never ending cycle of disappointment. I aim for the best grade possible but when I end up with a check/check plus I feel pathetic. I feel that I could’ve tried harder or that my effort, dedication, and hard-work that I did put in goes unnoticed. It’s like a stab in the back, and that knife remains in my backpack to stab me again. There have been numerous times where this has happened and it only gets worse in my opinion. People always say the feeling of failure gets better but it’s just a sharper pain next time around.

Next time I do try harder. I put in more effort. I’m more dedicated. I work harder and this time I end up with the same grade. By doing this I make myself stuck in a never ending cycle of setting myself up for failure by having unrealistic expectations of perfection. Having unrealistic expectations just ends up leaving me disappointed. It’s one ticket to a never ending roller coaster of more downs than ups sitting at the bottom of my backpack.

Striving for perfection is something I think everyone has tried to do at least once in their life but I feel like we forget that perfection isn't real. There’s a unicorn in my backpack to remind me the perfection isn’t real. I’ve learned that perfection isn’t real but constructing goals and wanting to achieve them isn’t wrong either. Sometimes people, including myself reach a self-destructive mindset where they train themselves to think or have been trained by others to think that they aren’t good enough if they don’t have perfection or their less than someone else. I now know that isn’t true. To represent my self-destructive behavior is a toy monster truck in my backpack. I can remember how rough my younger brother would be when he’d play with his toy trucks. He would break them sometimes. For me I sleep for endless hours to cope with getting a bad grade. It leaves me broken just like those toy trucks.

From my time in ENL 105 I’ve learned what I have about perfection. Most importantly that it isn’t real. Perfection is like a mind game. It plays with your head, your thoughts, your goals. Wanting to achieve perfection can be disastrous.

On my way to finding voice and through feedback and realization I have come to terms with the fact that my best is my best and that’s okay. I should still set goals and try my best to achieve them. Achieving my best is me putting in hard work, determination, and perseverance. It looks like me in my dorm, hopefully quiet, typing away for hours. To keep me focused I have prescribed Adderall in my backpack. Hard work, determination, and perseverance also looks like my code meshing/ code switching paper where I received a check plus. This made me feel good about myself, I had a smile on my face and that’s why there’s a smiley face sticker in my backpack. In my backpack is multiple erasers for all the mistakes I’ll make but will erase and continue trying.  

When I was younger I struggled to find my voice. When I'm struggling my voice is weak and tired. Papers were always a struggle. As I grew older it became a bit more manageable but I did still struggle. Now in ENL 105 I have found my voice. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t struggle at times but I have resources and people that are willing to help me now. My voice now has gotten stronger.

ENL 105 has taught me a lot. It’s taught me being in the present moment, different audiences, voice, no voice, real voice, writers block, new vocabulary, denotation, connotation, summary, paraphrase, quotation, prewriting, and intrapersonal rhetoric. Being in classroom 101A has been transforming. I’ve become a better writer. Lastly, inside my backpack is teddy bear that represents Professor Peary and all that she has taught me and all that I have gained from the class and will carry on to ENL 110.

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j. kells said...
on Dec. 29 2017 at 1:00 pm
how great you are i had a son with a learning problem and had some of what you wote wish you were around then to let him know he was not alone help him you have greeted those damn stones headon, how brave you are i know you will have a great life thank you for your insight

Ssndra said...
on Dec. 29 2017 at 5:57 am
I too struggled when I was younger in school and wasn't as smart as my siblings. As I grew older, I realized that just being myself was enough and that I always learn from my mistakes and imperfections. I've been very successful as a corporate trainer.
Your story was inspirinng! Thank you for sharing.

Ssndra said...
on Dec. 29 2017 at 5:57 am
I too struggled when I was younger in school and wasn't as smart as my siblings. As I grew older, I realized that just being myself was enough and that I always learn from my mistakes and imperfections. I've been very successful as a corporate trainer.
Your story was inspirinng! Thank you for sharing.

on Dec. 28 2017 at 5:53 pm
Love this! AMAZING job. blown me away. Keep being the amazing young lady you are Mandi ! So proud of you and you never fail to impress me and make me proud. Lots of love for you always.
Juliana ! ❤️

Lizb said...
on Dec. 28 2017 at 4:52 pm
Nice Work!!!

Jomama said...
on Dec. 28 2017 at 3:28 pm
Nice work!!

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