An honor student. A former GATE kid. A “pleasure to have in class.”
Despite these descriptors, I strive each and every day to prove myself, often through academic means. I’ve always believed that this habit stems from an inclination to push myself to be the best version of myself that I can be, but at what cost?
A couple of weeks ago, I stayed up until 6 am to complete a 15-point assignment. This perfectionism cost me my physical and mental health. After pulling an all-nighter, I think I experienced some form of a wake-up call. A sleepless night over 15 points. It was ridiculous and I was beginning to lose a grounded sense of reality.
Not to mention, I didn’t even get 100% on the assignment. It simply wasn’t worth it.
However, at the time I was determined and I didn’t care. I was more than willing to sacrifice my well-being in exchange for some minor fulfillment of success and validation.
Who am I trying to impress? Well, I guess that’s still up for debate.
I’m attempting to prove myself to be a worthy daughter to boast about, a student to write recommendations for, and a woman in film that is worthy of a seat at the writer’s table. The list can truly go on.
Is this experience of perfectionism valid? Sure, I’m striving towards my goals with a passion that is greatly pushing me forward. However, the repercussions are severe.
This debilitating experience of perfectionism is difficult to explain. It’s deeply rooted and it’s consistently fueled, a fire you can’t put out. It’s not something that you can necessarily “self-care” or “meditate” away.
The constant chase for fleeting moments of validation is a steep uphill battle. The incline never ceases because there is always something else to chase next. Whether it be another assignment or another internship, the trek continues.
I believe that this disabling drive is found when our definition of success becomes skewed and narrowed down to labels, titles, and material means. I can admit that this is something I struggle with. Happiness is lost amidst the chase because it is so strongly associated with the end goal– success. As cliche as it sounds, it’s about the journey, not the destination.
To those of you who are chasing academic validation and may be losing sleep over minute assignments as I did, I hope you can find rest. Peace is found when you stop chasing and start nurturing yourself. You can and will reach your goals, and I promise you’ll reach them with even more gusto if you can prioritize your health and well-being.
I don’t have it all figured out. Heck, I’m writing this at 3 am right now when I should be sleeping, but breaking the cycle and finding a resting point in your lifelong expedition is something that takes time and patience.
Take heed travelers, life is a journey that can have many winding roads and steep hills, but I insist that you take the scenic route.
You deserve the rest.
You’ve earned it, look how far you’ve come.
There is no shame in slowing down to recuperate.
The destination will still be there when you wake up, I promise! <3