I’ve always wanted to be seen as “Miss Perfect”. However, I realise now that I have earned that name for things that, in retrospect, are incredibly irrelevant measures of any person’s perfection. I work hard at school, I play piano, I’m athletic, I bookmark the pages of a book that I think are important. Truthfully, a young person cannot be perfect at anything. Still, a standard of perfection has become deeply embedded into my sense of identity. Yet, one of life’s most basic lessons is that everybody falls short of perfection. I think it is important that we learn to recognise the radiant beauty in a person’s imperfection.
I tried to chase myself close to the brink of death. I felt an unwanted need to “improve” myself. I cut out food, exercised excessively and isolated myself from the people I love. One afternoon, after attempting to convince my friends that I had satisfied my hunger, I stood in the doorway of an office with tears in my eyes, silently pleading for a sense of comfort, realizing I had found myself slowly falling into a very dark place.
I had often tried to convince myself that I could just stop and just turn it off because it was my choice and my body… But I could not just turn it off and somewhere along the way I lost sight of myself. Suddenly, everyone else became aware of me. The one thing I was trying to do was becoming more and more difficult.
Deep down I knew what was wrong… I’d heard all about people who were “like me”. I’d sympathised with them and the things they had been through. Never in a million years did I think it could possibly happen to me. And at the severity that it did.
For someone who has always been so hypersensitive to other people’s perception of me, I still ignored their strong concerns. Admitting out loud that something was wrong was one of the toughest things I had ever done. And for someone who cared so deeply about the physical and mental health of others, I sure was sabotaging my own.
One day, I took a good look around me and at myself and realised that I could not continue to live so selfishly and miserably. Whatever I had been so desperately chasing after, it was not and never would be worth the pain I was inflicting upon myself and especially upon those who love me. My love for my friends and family is not skin deep and neither is their love for me.
If I have learned one thing from this whole experience, it would be that no one ever fully understands what you’re going through. But that doesn’t mean they can’t help you. I read a book while I was pretty deep into my eating disorder and it said this: “Someone doesn’t need to understand you to save your life. They just need to care”. It goes to show that people won’t always know what to say and they may not even know what they are trying to help with but they still want to be there for you. And if you can find a way to let them in, life could just get a whole lot better.
I will not give up on myself. I have started challenging the negative thoughts and begun to be more open with the people around me. I want to refocus my energy into becoming energetic again. When I look back, a year from now, I want to be finishing school feeling the strongest and healthiest. I want to love, appreciate, and value life in a way that I never have before. A better way.
I want to accept being imperfect, as I always have been, but I want to be happy. Thanks to my weaknesses, I look forward to learning and growing day by day for the rest of my life as a perfectly imperfect person, surrounded by perfectly imperfect people and what a beautiful life that is.
By an ex Marlwood School Student