This I Believe

Sylvia - Port Matilda, Pennsylvania
Entered on November 19, 2006
Age Group: Under 18

Portraits of Perfection

I believe in beauty,

In all things and all people;

A soul that rises above mortal definitions and boundaries and offers something truly unique to the world.

I discovered beauty while stuck in The Middle of Nowhere, PA in the heat of July, yielding to my impending exhaustion during a business camp sermon that bolstered the impersonal benefits of capitalist America. Parched yet unable to drink because the vending machines refused to offer diet lemonade, I was forced to allow my mind to delve into the murky waters of self-contemplation.

Why was I there? I hate business!

None of it truly mattered, truly peaked my interest.

What was the point of it, any of it?

Why did the prospect of college resumés rule my life?

Why was I trying so hard for that 218 instead of the 214 on the PSATs?

I’m the same student, the same person, either way.

I find myself engrossed in the clichéd struggle to transcend material qualifications of weight, GPA, and popularity, and learn to value myself by my own standards. I struggle to find beauty in myself.

That which I foster in each scholarship essay, each club membership, each summer camp application, is less a genuine ambition and will to participate in whatever activity presents itself than a desperate urge to test personal limits and give credence to timid assertions that “yes, I am intelligent.”

I suffered from anorexia; I was deterred from my perceptions of health and beauty by the allure of a media that offered me an escape route from true innate evaluation by allowing me to adopt idealist icons of supermodels and actresses. Microcosms of the corruption of our society in which the concept of majority approval dominates, these ideals became my realities, my expectations and standards. I allowed myself to succumb to the pressures of self-conscious and equally lost peers, aiming to fit physically into the upper ranks of the social hierarchy that I hoped could fill that place in my heart which longed for the recognition of my personal unique beauty.

Perfection is an extremely personal concept; it represents in many ways the maximization of individualist potential, the exploitation of personal differences. Perfection is a state of mind; an immutable and deep-seeded confidence more stable than can be swayed by tides of popular consensus and approval.

I fight every day to attain perfection; to value my strengths in an academic subject based more on my passion for the content matter than on the letter grade that society provides as an easy venue for self-scrutiny.

I fight to look in the mirror and seek not an air-brushed, commercialized mask of drug store cosmetics, but rather to appreciate each misplaced freckle, each quirky deviation from magazine images that would deem such traits ‘imperfections’.

But I believe in beauty, and I am proud in life to call myself a true perfectionist.