Monday, April 9, 2001 Volume 66, Issue 128



Perfection: a childish goal to pursue

Quiana Pennie

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 education. 

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 I did.

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 behind. 

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.

Pennie, a junior communication major, can 
be reached at

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