August 6, 2011
“You’re so perfect,” said Eliza from across the table, frowning slightly. “You’re good at everything- sports, school, music…”
“No, I’m not,” Kassie disagreed. “I suck at …”
“See, you even have to think about it.” Eliza bit her lip and looked down at her paper.
“…drawing,” finished Kassie.
“But no one cares about that.” Eliza replied stubbornly.
“Trust me, you don’t want to be perfect anyways.” Kassie told her firmly. “I’m not perfect, whatever you think. I don’t want to be perfect.”
“I do,” Eliza muttered under her breath.
“What?” asked Kassie, although it was abundantly clear she had heard her peer’s statement.
“Nothing.” Eliza pretended to work as their teacher walked by. He nodded in approval at Eliza’s work, then peered at Kassie’s and beamed at her.
“Great job, Kassie,” he said quietly, whispering. “I have another challenge assignment for you, see me after class.”
Eliza acted as if she hadn’t heard Kassie’s exchange with Mr. Merowe. She was writing so fiercely that her pen stabbed a hole through her paper when she dotted an i.
“Really, you don’t want to be perfect. You don’t even want to be thought of as being perfect.” Kassie whispered, trying to rally her argument one last time.
Eliza ignored her pointedly and went back to her work. Kassie sighed. No one understood how she felt. What it was like to be like her all the time- how she had gotten stuck with the “perfect” stereotype.
Kassie resignedly kept on working, glancing over at Eliza. She was still ignoring her, staring down at her paper as if it held all the secrets of the world.
Later that day, Kassie was up in her room. The conversation between herself and Eliza was stuck in her head, no matter how hard she tried to leave it alone in her mind. She couldn’t help mulling over what Eliza had said.
Why couldn’t she see the truth? That when you were thought of being “perfect” that if you made one little mistake, if you got below a perfect score ever that it was suddenly all over the entire school. That you weren’t allowed to do anything wrong, because everyone would gasp and stare and whisper. Just because she was smart and athletic and musical suddenly classified her as “perfect.”
They just didn’t get it, Kassie decided, crawling over to sit in her window seat. Didn’t get that once you were perfect that you were stuck that way in everyone’s mind. They didn’t understand the subtle yet strong pressure on her to become the perfect girl she had come to be known as. That they were the ones who had molded her into shape, refusing to let her be her own creator and mold herself imperfectly.
Whatever had happened to “girls just wanna have fun?” Not for Kassie. Kassie the Brilliant, Kassie the Amazing. Kassie—perfect. A break, some small way to forget about everything would be the very thing she needed. One day to forget about it, to forget about being judged—that was what she needed.
Who was the person who knew everything? Kassie. Who was the girl to go to for help on homework? Kassie. Who knew what was due when? Kassie. Who did you want to be in your group for science fair? Kassie. Who did you want on your team in gym class? Kassie.
Sure, the grades were nice, the fighting over for groups and teams wasn’t all that bad, but Kassie was sure the pressure was going to get to her and she would soon explode. As if it hadn’t already, she thought wryly. Only she knew how much she agonized over writing the best essay, over making the most memorable play in games. She drew up her knees and tucked them under her chin.
Kassie bit her lip, similar to the way Eliza had earlier that day in class. She had always been strong emotionally for her age- she had grew up being more responsible than necessary- more perfect than necessary. Too independent, too determined to do things by herself- that was Kassie. She had been picking out her own clothes from grade one, looked up things by herself when she didn’t understand, rather than ask someone for help.
She wasn’t perfect; her weakness was her colossal fear of failure.
Kassie hardly ever cried. Her eyes watered from time to time, and she cried when her first pet cat, Molly had died. But that was it. She had always been able to restrain herself in other situations, even when everyone else around her was bawling.
But then, Kassie put her head on her knees, and simply cried.

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