May 4, 2010
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“The search for perfection begins with detecting imperfection.” - Anonymous
I look at my reflection in the clean, full length mirror one more time and examine myself head-to-toe yet again before heading out the door for school. Not good enough. I readjust my headband and make sure any flyaways aren’t visible while checking for any unsightly mascara clumps on my naturally short lashes. There. All better.

“Come on, Sarah! You look fine!” my mom yelled at me, worrying we were going to be late, even though I knew that wasn’t a possibility.

The word that didn’t exist in my vocabulary of self-criticism was “fine”. “Fine” was not good enough. “Fine” was for people who could care less. “Fine” was for people who were satisfied with the minimum. I was not one of those people. I aimed for perfection. And I was determined to get it.

My persistent belief of being perfect 24/7 started back when I was young. My parents raised me to do my best in everything I did and that ended up being not enough for me. I raised myself to impossible standards that made me self-critical in everything I did. Befriending everyone at school, being nice all the time as much as I could, having perfect grades and flawless schoolwork, and being a strong person, all while looking sweet and pretty was what I set my mind on doing. If I didn’t reach these goals, I didn’t try anymore and pretended not to give a care, though I would feel terrible that I didn’t reach my goals.

My biggest fear was to disappoint someone because I did not live up or go farther than their expectations. It was like the standard was already set for me, but I realized it was not their standards. It was mine. Throughout the years, I learned the way I was self-critical: being self-conscious. I was extremely self-conscious of what others thought of me and what I did, and I still am. If I was able to do everything, and be good at it, I thought nobody would judge me harshly and meanly. I did everything in my will to be good at everything, such as spending all my time playing and practicing piano, doing gymnastics hour after hour, tumbling at the gym, dancing ballet and jazz, being in a math club, ad spending my free time doing service hours for National Junior Honors Society. It was the fear of not being accepted by everyone.

I’ve learned that high achievements and perfect outward appearances do not make up a person through this experience. Being perfect and too self-critical does not make us different or special in any way. It’s the quirks and imperfections of someone that make them beautiful. We should still strive for perfection, but it does not mean we have to reach it because all that matters is that we tried our best. And we should not let others judge us by our high achievements and outward appearance because if we are too self-critical about ourselves, we will not succeed.

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