This I Believe

Noushin - Wichita, Kansas
Entered on November 13, 2006

The Art of Perfection

I’m not perfect. I just try.

Growing up in a strict traditional home, slacking off was simply not an option. Before I started the second grade, I would review my multiplication and division rules, read chapter books, and write journal entries everyday. When they said practice made perfect, I believed that. I wanted to be perfect. I wanted to have the nicest handwriting, the neatest homework and the prettiest pictures.

I remember in the fifth grade I had to make a map and a timeline for Russia in social studies. Exactly two weeks before it was due, I started “planning.” The meticulous process of drawing the map proportionately, coloring in one direction and in one shade, outlining texts, having straight edges, evenly shaped pictures, the list was endless. But in the end, it didn’t matter how many late nights I had, how many times I had to erase pencil marks, how dirty my room became. The result. That’s what mattered. Years later, when I finally pull out the poster board, it hits me that the project wasn’t perfect. Looking at it, I realize that I was satisfied not because of how it looked, but because I put all my effort into it. I gave it all I could.

People expect me to be a perfectionist. They predict mind-blowing presentations; they assume I get the highest scores on quizzes and tests; they believe I am exceptional in debate, swimming, dancing, playing the piano, and everything else. Sometimes I want to quite. I try to find the nearest possible excuse. But I’ve finally realized that it is because of these expectations, from my teachers, my friends, my parents, that I keep on going. Many times I fail; I disappoint someone; I disappoint myself. But that’s the price that comes with these expectations.

People laugh at how much time I put into one project or assignment. While they stay up till ten, I would stay up at least an hour longer. But I’ve learned to embrace the situation. It doesn’t matter what the process is. It doesn’t matter who says what. It doesn’t matter if no one else likes it. As long as I put in my greatest effort, then I am satisfied. I have achieved my perfection.

Trying to attain perfection isn’t something to be ashamed of. It means trying my best. This I believe in.