I’ve spent my life chasing goals that were unattainable. There was always something that I needed to do better. Some minuscule mistake that needed to be fixed. Nothing was ever good enough in comparison to the standards I had in my head. I was never good enough. And it makes sense in a way- nobody wants to be mediocre.
It started small. I learnt early on that neat handwriting and higher level reading books meant stickers and praise. I learnt to be quiet and do what I was told. Keep your mouth shut and don’t laugh too loud or you’ll be told off. I memorised these rules and lived by them.
Then high school happened. Straight hair, crushes and lipgloss. Groups of girls laughing in bathrooms. I was alone. An outsider. I didn’t fit in. I started keeping silent unless I was spoken to. I threw everything into my schoolwork and those allusive grades that made me feel worth something. But it wasn’t enough. Grades. Food. The bullying. I couldn’t take it. Soon, I’d started skipping lunches and experimenting with make up. I’d come home and cry, carve the torment into my skin. My face streaked with black pain. Eventually, I don’t know how, I formed a close group of friends and muddled through the next few years.
VCE. I started it early, with a hunger to prove to everyone and myself that I was capable and intelligent and worth something. The high grades felt good but there came a point where nothing short of 100 left me satisified. I couldn’t cope with the pressure. Back to playing Russian roulette with my weight. I spent a year eating nothing that didn’t taste like cardboard. Then another year with my head in a toilet. I sat with my head on my desk in class having not eaten or slept in days. Nobody seemed to notice. I skipped class, came in late and threw my homework in my bag each morning without having opened it. My grades dropped. My self esteem was nonexistent. The teachers went on about how I was being lazy and I needed to work harder. I was already doing my best. ‘What’s happening?’ they’d ask, ‘you’re falling behind’. There was little regard for wellbeing, or if there was -everyone seemed content to watch me fall from afar.
I went through stages of throwing everything I had into school and giving up completely. Somehow, I made it through but I don’t think I’ll ever be the same person that I was before VCE. Maybe that’s a good thing. University has meant less pressure from others but the pressure from myself is still there and sometimes that becomes too much to handle. In hindsight, going to one of the most prestigious unis in the country probably wasn’t the best idea because I didn’t come pre-equipped to deal with the constant competition. Everything fell for me again. I wanted to do well, I wanted to be liked.
I’m learning now, to let go of all these rules that were taught when I was younger. I laugh when I feel like it, say what I want to and read whatever I please. I’m still struggling with my body image though and at the moment, it’s a battle that rules every waking moment of my life. One day I hope to be able to say that I am free from this. That I no longer care about how I compare with others. One day I want to feel important just for being who I am, not for what I achieve.
Perfection. It’s a silly word. Per-fect-ion. Pur-fekt-shion. Perfection is not perfect. It’s misery. Self hatred. An answer to a problem that doesn’t exist. There are days where everything seems futile, but what I’m realising is that the joy in life is not achievement but being happy with the little things. It’s movie nights with my best friends. Warm cups of coffee and hugs. Long walks spent thinking. It’s mindfullness and being aware. Reality, not being stuck in my head. Perfect, and all it’s relatives, need to be deleted from the lexicon. Today I’m dissembling all of my expectations and wiping the sate clean so, that there’s room for me to come up with new ones. Because I am worth it and so are you.