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“Everyone is doing what I’m doing and they’re doing it better than me.”

This thought has gripped me more times than I can count. This has proven not too beneficial for my mental health. Days go by and I have nothing to show for them. I could do my assignments, prepare for tests, and be active in extracurriculars and a million other things. It’s hard enough to be, though. 

The very first parent-teacher meeting I remember was in my first grade when I knocked on the classroom door and asked the teacher to let me in, only to find her surprised. The minute my parents sat down, she praised my manners. This was followed by the usual “She’s smart but doesn’t talk much” monologue by the teacher, and my parents replied with the usual “We’ll work on it” monologue. The fun fact is that the last parent-teacher meeting of my school life went almost verbatim, the repetition of what was told to me ages ago. I got frustrated after the meeting. I’ve worked hard and gotten a good grade. Does it matter if I talk a little less in class? Still, the report card was positive, and the seed was planted. I was hooked on praise. 

Without my knowledge, another thing had happened on that fateful day. I had shown Potential with a capital P. The stage was set; the world was ready to be my oyster, and great things were to be achieved. But, as embarrassing as it is to admit, I crumbled under the pressure. On the inside, that is. Unlike the first grade PTM, I don’t remember when this happened, or if it is still happening, like that meme of Donald Grover entering a party with pizza in hand, only to find that the room is burning. Nevertheless, by the time I clocked in that basing my self-worth on academic validation was maybe not the best idea, my perfectionist tendencies had become a part of me, a part so central to me, that I couldn’t bring myself to “overcome” it.

Still, starting a task only when I can do it ‘right’ hasn’t always served me well. Once I started thinking about it, I couldn’t stop. The realization that I had become completely numb towards my successes because there was always more to achieve terrified me. The recurring thought was to be flawless and do something amazing that no one had ever done before, and only then would I be worthy of compliments. My dream of a perfect future seemed more like a nightmare, something I had wasted my childhood for. 

There was just one thing to do then. To overcome perfectionism perfectly. And thus be the most mentally stable person this town has ever seen. I’m just kidding. Accepting yourself is a work in progress, and on the days when getting out of bed is the only task I achieve, I think back to all the times I didn’t accomplish my goals and, well, nothing bad happened. After all, on that day in first grade, I had only knocked on the door before coming in because I saw my older sister doing it, anyway.  

Ira Sharma

Delhi North '24

Ira is a second year political science student at Indraprastha College for Women, University of Delhi. She is passionate about gender equality, sustainable living, and feminism. She is a lover of power naps, video essays, and the oxford comma. Though she does not usually refer to herself in third person, she can be persuaded to do so from time to time.