Too Perfect

July 13, 2009
By Sarah Dinell BRONZE, Chandler, Arizona
Sarah Dinell BRONZE, Chandler, Arizona
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

If you could pick one word to describe you, what would it be? Most people pick tall, or funny, or some generic word that only describes a part of who they are. Me? I’d pick perfect. I’m not trying to be a snob, but the word that best describes me is perfect. My whole life has been wrapped around that one simple word. I am my parents’ dream child, the one with amazing grades, friends, activities, social life. I am the child that my parents proudly proclaim to everyone they meet, “This is Emily, our perfect daughter. We just couldn’t be prouder…” while I smile weakly and feel that familiar tightening in my chest that makes me want to run away from everything, but I can’t. It’s like there is a giant box with everyone’s expectations in it, hovering over me, stifling me, where escape is impossible.

I never wanted to be perfect. I never woke up one morning and suddenly decided, “Hmm, you know, starting today, I want to be perfect for the rest of my life.” That was never one of my goals. But when I was young, and I successfully accomplished even a small task, my parents would praise me. They said they were proud of me. I guess I just wanted to keep making my parents proud and happy. When I did make mistakes, they would look at me with disappointment lining their faces, and say, “We are very displeased with you, Emily Rose. We know you are capable of much greater things.” So I quit goofing off and having fun, instead putting all my energy in trying to create and maintain a perfect life. I worked hard, all the time, ever conscious of my parents’ expectations and dreams constantly looming over my shoulder.

Achieving and maintaining perfection is becoming more difficult as I grow older. High school, and the pressures that come from it are slowly draining me, mentally and physically. I am constantly grumpy and stressed. I no longer try to make my life perfect, instead focusing my attention into covering up my errors, fooling everyone with the illusion that I have no problems. Right now, perfection is just a faraway dream, a dream that is quickly vanishing into the horizon. I know I can’t continue this charade much longer, but I don’t have any more options. My life is spinning out of control. My best friend hates me, I earned a D on my last history test, and my soccer team lost the state championship game because I missed a goal.

My parents have noticed my “unusual behavior,” so they call a family meeting. We sit down at the kitchen table, with me seated across from them. I feel like I’m in an interrogation room, waiting for my parents to force the answers out of me. They share a glance, then turn to me with their obviously prepared speech, straight from the parenting handbook. “We are very concerned about you. Lately, we have noticed a dramatic change in your behavior. You seem…a bit stressed. Is there anything that you would like to share with us?” Stressed. Hah. Wow, you finally noticed? After how many years? I’ve been stressed my entire life! This is nothing new! I just can’t hide it any more! Do you know what I go through, trying to make it seem as if I have no problems or worries? My one goal in life was to make you guys happy. And you know what? I can’t do it! My thoughts have turned into words. I’m screaming now, barely aware of the shocked faces across from me. I never scream. Ever. “I can’t take this anymore! I’m constantly afraid of doing something wrong, of making a mistake, because I’m afraid if I’m not perfect, you won’t love me anymore!” I know instantly that this is the truth. Deep inside, I’ve always been afraid that if I stopped being perfect, I would lose my parents’ love. I look at my parents, who are both crying. My mom is holding out her arms to me. As I run into her warm embrace, I know that I have never been more wrong in my entire life.

Perfect is not the word that describes who I am anymore; it never truly did. My new word is happy.

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This article has 1 comment.

on Aug. 12 2009 at 9:41 pm
kiwi12 PLATINUM, Austin, Texas
28 articles 10 photos 365 comments
I like this! Very good!

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