Nobody’s perfect, I gotta work it
Everybody makes mistakes, everybody has those days.”
Such begins Miley Cyrus’ “Nobody’s Perfect,” the jam I played over and over again on my Barbie CD player all throughout the fourth grade.
Well, here I am, owning the mistake (which happened in third grade, mind you) that probably most represents who I’ve come to be in the years since. When I was an 8-year-old, I retroactively cheated on a spelling test. I got a 95 percent on the exam, and my unfamiliarity with academic imperfection literally led me to falsify a test score. As. A. Third. Grader. My teacher caught on and informed my parents. What started out as a little blip on my academic record (I know, an A instead of an A+, the horror!) turned into a much bigger problem.
While I’m pretty excellent at spelling, I’m most certainly not good at everything. I’m meh at sci ence, lousy at math and absolutely terrible at all sports. I also don’t know how to say “no” and often find myself juggling more work than I can probably handle, leading to weekends spent doing little beyond writing articles and studying for classes. Oh, and I am afraid of confrontation to the point where I won’t address a conflict until I’ve internalized it for so long that even considering the issue makes my fingers start shaking (although that might be spurred on by my excess caffeine consumption).
Admittedly, it’s been pretty easy to get around my STEM ineptitude (thanks, Washington Un iversity, for the relatively loose general education requirements). But my tendency to overload myself with work has been a consistent problem throughout my Wash. U. career that’s plagued me, at times, in unexpected ways.
Over the past three years, I’ve often prioritized schoolwork, Student Life and paid work over all else. When I think about the lack of sleep I’ve gotten over the past week—and consider that my most-consumed food group is Diet Coke—I can’t help but wonder if I’ve made some wrong decisions.
Has my pursuit of perfection come at the expense of my own physical and mental well-being?
This is a difficult, and perhaps impossible, question to answer. When I look back on the past three years, I know I’ve grown as a leader, thrived academically and made some really great friends. But this semester, I’ve also blown off those friends (sorry friends!) to spend my weekends doing so much work that I’ve described Monday—I have three classes on Mondays—as my “day off.”
I’ve always had an I-can-handle-it-all-and-things-will-be-fine mentality. My schedule has been so tight as to barely even allow time for my overanalysis of every situation (see what I said about internalizing conflicts?). My life has existed on tightly timed blocks of homework and real work and Student Life. And honestly, I’m still not exactly sure whether I’ve made the right choices over the past few years. All I know for sure is that I definitely drank too much Diet Coke.
So, no, I’m not longer falsifying my spelling test results. But college has been as much of a learning experience for me as third grade. It’s been a chance for me to define what’s important to me and to strive to find the right balance between everything.
Defining priorities isn’t easy. There’s no real right or wrong answer.
But before you find yourself bogged down in a toxic cycle of work-sleep-work-sleep, consider another uplifting message from the one and only Miley Cyrus: “Always gonna be an uphill battle/Sometimes I’m gonna have to lose/Ain’t about how fast I get there/Ain’t about what’s waiting on the other side/It’s the climb.”