How Perfectionism is Holding Me Back



For the first time in a long time I was stuck, the common app essay had stopped me in my tracks. It felt as if the floodgates that held back memories of struggling with assignments and the dread of being unable to work towards my goals overtook me. I leaned back in my chair, rubbed my eyes, and stared at the ceiling and in that moment I felt the cold grasp of fear tightening around me. Perfectionism is often considered a positive trait, but what is not taken into consideration is how unsatisfied you are when you can’t obtain perfection, and are thus forced to settle for mediocrity. At least that's what your brain tells you. For a long time I wasn’t sure if I was broken, maybe I just set my own standards too high but the one thing I knew is that if I kept letting this ravenous emotion eat away at me, one day I wouldn't be able to push through my own doubts. I wasn’t going to let myself get stuck again in this pool of tar-like emotion I called fear. Nevertheless just like tar the more I panicked, the more I fought back, the more I struggled the faster I began to sink as if the fear itself had grown arms just to hold me tighter.

Even from a young age I remember being hesitant to participate in anything from new games to activities such as the science fair. Being so young I didn’t want to appear weak in front of others so I masked the fear that was stopping me as laziness. The hunger for perfection I harbored was so astronomical that I decided I would rather appear lazy than be vulnerable and show that I was afraid. Afraid of what? Afraid of not being perfect, afraid of not reaching the standards others and I had set for myself, afraid of reaching my full potential and it being nothing less than average. As a senior in high school, I can see how childish it was and how concealing my fear made me miss out on so many experiences in life. It also prevented anyone from helping me as I slowly sunk deeper and deeper into that godforsaken tar I knew as fear. Yet, I still harbored that same hunger for perfection, and still masked my hesitation as laziness. Although the perfectionism I experienced always pushed me to complete my work to the best of my abilities, I grew tired. Tired of having the handprints on my ankles and wrist from where the fear clasped on. I needed to learn how to sate my hunger. How to fill this void in my stomach. Learn to let others help me through my vulnerability. 

In the back of my mind I always knew I couldn’t face this alone as it is improbable for one to escape from a tar pit by their lonesome but I’ve always been defiant as my parents would say. My parents raised me to be independent, resilient, and hardworking. So why was I letting this emotion trample me? Why was I choosing not to let my family know what I was going through? One day I realized I didn’t have to keep my walls up. I knew I had people who acted as rocks to lean against when I was struggling to stand on my own. These people I knew as family stood by my side and that realization is what pulled me out of the tar pit, faded the handprints, and silenced the hunger. I turned this perfectionism I found detestable into something advantageous. I used my hunger for perfection to shatter the fear that held me back, that fear of failure that shadowed me for years finally gone. Now my perfectionism drives me to seek greatness, It powers every decision I make but now I’m the one in control.