If you’re reading this, you’re the best person you could possibly be.
I spent an immeasurable number of years of my life pursuing perfection, striving to be the most desirable person possible in academic, social, and even societal settings. In the town that I grew up in, ideas of success and achievement fueled the minds of both myself and my peers, creating a very productive but also competitive environment that I had gotten used to from the age of 10. I always seemed to be preparing myself for that next step; I was already thinking about high school in 7th grade and crafting a short list of colleges by 9th. My schedule at that point was in no way saturated with constant, back-to-back-to-back activities, but my mind was. I barely allowed myself to sit down and question my reasoning for chasing the invisible and almost unknown ideal that was accomplishment.
Why do I challenge myself in the classes that I take when I don’t even enjoy them? What is the point of a mile-long resume full of stuff I don’t care about? Do I really want to grow up to be a businessman, even though the thought of that invokes no passion in me?
I was only able to conjure these thoughts in the more recent years of my life. I didn’t realize how truly overwhelmed I was making myself until just a few years ago, when a therapist asked me “what in the world could you possibly be worried about?” when I confronted her with worries about my grades and resume despite both of them being way more than mediocre.
If you’re reading this, then you may have experienced or are currently experiencing thoughts similar to those of ‘I need to be the best’ or ‘I’m not good enough,’ when in reality you’re right where you need to be. True failure is different than the inability to reach perfection or something similar, and even true failure is experienced by all of us, every single day. Try not to let your mind revolve around success because everything you’ve ever done to get you to this point already proves it. Take time to appreciate what you have accomplished and learn to know that that truly is enough. Enjoy the things that you actually enjoy and do the things that you actually want to do because that’s the fun of being yourself, and nobody can do that better.
Jonathan L., University of Virginia ‘22