The tarnished, round fragment of gold lying at the heart of my chest looks withered and worn. Green specks eat away at the engraved “L” in the center. The metal no longer radiates a glistening shine at the surface. Although meager looking, my mind never forgets the weathered adornment that resembles my weathered, broken down spirit. The weight of the necklace alone is not hard to carry, but the reminder of a lifetime of struggling through the mindset of a perfectionist is something that I will always wear.
School presents itself as a daunting experience in my attempts to strive for the best. My thoughts never quit, like a persistent child begging for a toy. I give in to the anxiety as the teacher wanders down my row, finally handing me the crisp, white printer paper that holds the score that defines who I am in my mind. My breathing becomes rapid and the space under my gold necklace pounds to the rhythm of my heartbeat. My eyes burn in the sight of all the red marks scratched across the document I am given. Failure is not something I take lightly. It is one of the many flaws that encompass who I am. Failure means one thing in my twisted thoughts of perfection. Failure means not only that I am not the best, but that I am the worst.
Outside of school, the golf course is my place of solitude; but, even in the peaceful bliss of the fresh air, my thoughts become my worst enemy. During the final moments of my round of golf, I begin to doubt my abilities, whether I realize it or not. I stride across the tediously kept green grass, approaching my golf ball for the final stroke of the day. With such thoughtful effort, I tap the ball with an effortless swing. My heart sinks as I witness my white, Callaway golf ball roll short of the hollow cup. The wind sends a shudder down my spine in response to my mistake. The sun takes remission behind a dark, gloomy cloud overhead. The monotonous green grass succombs me to a dull world. As I look down and take the last final stroke, my eye catches the gold pendant dangling in mid-air from my neck into the viewpoint of my golf ball. The distraction of the tarnished necklace is just enough of a distraction to quiet the voice inside my head whispering “You have failed. You are not good enough. You are not perfect.”
During the hours when I am completely alone, however, my thoughts are at their worst. I hide behind a happy mask in front of others in order to appear to the outside world as a typical sixteen year old girl. However, the reflection in the mirror, once vibrant and full of life, stares back at me with hollow eyes and pale skin. Skin that was once plump and full of color now looks ghostly and dull. The curves of a healthy, maturing girl are replaced with bones and protruding, deep blue veins. The only glimmer of shine comes from the gold necklace resting at the heart of my icy cold chest. As I stare at my reflection, it is not only hard to hide my imperfections, it is hard to love the flawed person that I am.
Awareness is said to be the first step to finding a solution to a problem. Knowing that I am an imperfect person living in an imperfect world is a baby step towards learning to be okay with what that really means. My gold, engraved necklace is my daily reminder of the internal battle I face everyday. It is my reminder that imperfections can be worn, but they do not mask beauty. It is my reminder that I can be weathered, beaten down, and imperfect, but none of that will change who I really am in the center of my chest. It is a reminder that despite my imperfections, I can love myself for who I really am.