You don’t need to be perfect. You really don’t. If we broke down the many obstacles we face on a day-to-day basis or the things that slowly eat at us during the 15 minutes we’re in bed waiting for sleep, the problem would be perfection. Maybe that’s what was eating Gilbert Grape, too. Attempting to be responsible and sensitive to the lives of one too many people that you end up neglecting yourself only to come to this realization when you’re too far in and the damage you have done and the person you have become are unrecognizable. You look in the mirror and you’re confused by the figure staring back at you because it in no way resembles how insincere and estranged you feel on the inside.
I’ve had a rough week. I’ve had a rough few months, running on extreme highs and lows in terms of motivation. Highs and lows from stepping back to examine my life from a distance only to realize that no matter how much I do, I feel that I am going nowhere abnormally fast. But why is that? I’m starting grad school in the spring, I finally live on my own, I’m independent, I have a job…
The problem? I’m not perfect.
The book I have had in my mind since 20 is still there instead of on pages. I tell myself I’ll write everyday but then one day turns to two then three and I’m still here not working on it. Why? Because I’m afraid of not being perfect. Of disappointing myself.
I grew up with a single mom. It’s just my sister, my mom and myself. Everyone has moved out, my sister moving on with her life with her boyfriend and me on my own. For most of my life I’ve tried to be the good daughter. The one that hangs with her mom for a couple hours even though she wants to do other things, the daughter that takes one day off a week to chill with her mom even though sometimes she doesn’t feel like it, the daughter that is there for all the tech issues her mother encounters even though it drives her up the wall.
It’s not all bad, though. My mom cooks me amazing food, we laugh together, I do my laundry there, we go on small in-state adventures…But it’s not all genuine. I’m lucky to have a mother and to have a self sufficient one as her but sometimes she drives me crazy. Sometimes, I don’t want to be around her. And this is difficult to admit because I have perpetuated the “good daughter” bit to myself so long that I no longer even knew what my real thoughts were. I was on auto-pilot. But who benefits from that?
“Don’t do something because you feel like you should, that’s wrong. Do it because you want to.” My sister told me that today. I’ve told myself that countless times before, too but “Do it because it makes mom happy,” always trumped that.
I’m not the perfect daughter. Too many times I do things because I know that if I don’t I’ll regret them in the future. Because I know that missing a Sunday dinner will eat at me when she’s no longer here. Because I know I’ll look back and wish I had just complied and maybe then she would have been happier.
I carry so much imminent guilt that all I have left now is pent up anger. And it’s palpable. It rises and it falls like a heavy burden. It crystallizes then pours out in waves at unpredictable times. It is so so palpable and it scares me because this is not the me that I want to be.
I believe people can change. I believe that people can do anything reasonable if they put their mind to it. Beginning today, I am going to let perfection go. The pressure of being the perfect writer who never misses a day and the perfect daughter who is always there, even if she doesn’t want to be.
I’d like to think of myself as a good person. Someone who can empathize. Someone who can care and love. So why can’t I do this for myself? Each of us has something we try to be perfect at. Often, this thing will bring us unhappiness because we aren’t staying true to ourselves. I’m probably not anybody to you but I still want to tell you that you don’t have to perfect. You just have to be you because at the end of the day, that’s all you’ve got. And you deserve to be happy, too.
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