A Perfect Disaster
I want to be perfect.
In elementary school I was told by friends that I was not good enough for them. Whenever I would say the wrong thing, they said I wasn’t smart enough. When I got out in kickball because I didn’t get to the base in time, they said I wasn’t fast enough. And when I was hanging around with them and their friends, they said I wasn’t “cool” enough. Even through middle school they still had not changed their critical manner toward me. Which would have been bearable, only as I started to mature, the little comments like “you’re stupid” began to stick to me more; but the problem was that I was an all A student and had always been. So I tried to stop these remarks by spending most of my time with work and school, making sure it was, well, perfect.
As another way to try and avoid the criticism, I began to get into sports, thinking that my friends would be easier on me if they saw what I could do not only, in school, but on the soccer field, too. They did indeed stop their comments, but something still did not seem right. I could keep up with them when I ran, I could laugh and enjoy practice, but I still had this feeling I was not good enough even when no one was verbally reminding me. It was then that I realized it was not me that was not good enough for them, it was me that was not good enough for myself.
I had begun to drift away from friends and leave it to myself to deal with the problem. But I only spent my solitude degrading every imperfection, mentally and physically; my acne, my small, undefined body, even to my trouble dealing with school work.
When I was a freshman in high school, I was old enough to go to the gym and became very interested in my body’s looks. It was an obsession. I had seen my friends and the guys on the fronts of the fitness magazines, and I wanted their bodies. So in a manner that was lacking knowledge and impossible for me to handle I tried to get that front page body; a task that I would find to take longer than my confidence could hold out. I had no idea what were good core exercises, that I should exercise both my upper and lower body, or even the importance of running too, I had no idea what I was doing; I just hoped it would get me that front page body. I never got it, and this unquenched thirst for a perfect body led to an even further dwindling self image that not only made it hard for me to be positive about anything pertaining to me, but made it hard for me to keep on going to the gym since I could not get what I wanted from it.
I had no remnant of a self-image left, and it drove me to a point where it was hard to talk to even my closest friends. My mind was so distracted by what was underneath my clothes that even with my clothes covering my broken aspiration of perfection would not help in everyday confrontations with people.
Perfection sounded like everything to me, and still does. I have realized that trying to become perfect has ruined me, leaving me with an empty space that was once filled with confidence; but I can’t help but keep trying. It is like walking by a mirror and trying not to look in it, I know I don’t need to, but I can not help but do it. When I look in the mirror I am reminded of the confidence that was once there, the wanted body that I do not have and why I believe that the road to perfection is a road to self-destruction.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.