Perfection: a childish
goal to pursue
When do you stop living for the dreams
of your parents and start making dreams of your own?
This question crossed my mind numerous
times while I was growing into adulthood.
When I was a little girl, my parents continuously
explained to me that education was the most valuable asset a person could
ever receive in this life.
Because neither of my parents went to college,
my sisters and I knew they wanted us to achieve their dream of a college
My mother started teaching me addition
and subtraction when I was three-years old. I knew how to multiply two-digit
numbers by my fifth birthday.
A dictionary was placed in my lap when
I turned six so I could learn to read, spell and know the definition of
words that the average adult didn't use on a daily basis.
I wasn't allowed to go outside and play
with the other kids until my schoolwork was completed to my parents' satisfaction.
This prevented me from getting to know many of the kids in my neighborhood.
In elementary school, my teachers praised
me for my intelligence and willingness to strive for perfection in everything
My family would make our annual trip to
my grandmother's house during the holiday season. One of the first topics
of conversation was always about how smart and accomplished I was in comparison
to my cousins.
I could see the animosity flare in my cousins'
eyes when they heard about my grades and the ribbons I won in class. If
only they understood that if I didn't do well a belt would be put to my
What my cousins didn't know was that my
parents pressured me to make very good grades, because if I didn't I would
not have their approval.
Why was it so important that I achieve
perfection? Why couldn't my parents be satisfied with the fact that I could
only do my best and nothing more?
My parents had a fit after I made a couple
of Bs in my classes in high school; either I make As, or suffer the consequences.
Not once did they ask me if I did my best
or if I tried hard at my assignments, because for them it was all or nothing.
After these "discussions" I would become
depressed. I felt I was nothing without my good grades.
Soon after the depression passed, my anger
began to boil. I decided to voice my opinion.
I told my parents that no matter what,
I always tried to do my best. Although straight As were something they
wanted me to achieve, they should love me for who I was and who I was trying
to become as an individual.
As stubborn as they could be, they finally
listened to reason and accepted me as someone who wanted to accomplish
my own goals, not as a person forced to do another's will.
Although it was a long journey, I have
come to grips that my failures and accomplishments will not alter the way
my parents think of me.
When it comes down to it, I have to start
living and doing for myself.