One step at a time.
“Love your curves and all your edges. All your perfect imperfections.” – John Legend’s “All of Me”
If someone asked me a year ago what my weakness is, I would say I’m a perfectionist. I’m always striving to be the best, to attend the most academically rigorous schools, to maintain the highest grades, to seek the most prestigious careers. That mindset that I had always carried with me also sculpted me into an extremely stressed out person all the time. The only times of the year when I felt relaxed and wore genuine smiles on my face were during the summer and winter breaks when I was off from school. It’s quite sad to think about it now. When I was around friends, I would smile and laugh at jokes, but inside, I often felt lonely and always worried about the upcoming exam or assignment that was due.
I never paused to think about what the purpose of attaining those superficial goals was. What was the real reason I wanted that A so badly? Why did I want to attend that university? Truthfully, I wanted to be the smartest among my siblings. I craved the approval from my parents and the envy from my friends. It felt so satisfying to hear someone say, “I’m so proud of you!”
Growing up, I never knew what I wanted to be. Some people just knew they wanted to be a pediatrician, an artist, a CEO, when they were only in middle school. For me, that was not the case. The only thing I knew was to study hard and get the best grades I could possibly achieve because if I did well in my classes, I could go on to a good school, and then get good grades, and then go to an even better school, and so on. But I never knew what my ultimate goal was. And so I kept going and going, graduating from middle school, high school, and finally college. Now what? I have a degree, but what good does it do me if I still haven’t figured out my life? Sure, I may have done well in many classes, gotten on the Dean’s List, never skipped class, but in the grand scheme of things, those trivial parts of my education don’t even matter. Trying to be the perfect student, daughter, sister…it all does not matter.
In fact, the moment I stopped trying to be so perfectionistic and embraced the fact that life isn’t perfect and no one will ever be perfect, I became happier.
I am an imperfectionist.