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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Wake Forest chapter.

By Jen Schretter

The pit in her stomach grew like a chasm as she thought about the never-ending to-do list that she had to complete. Go for a run, have lunch with Susie, write a paper, study for Spanish, email her Chemistry professor about research, call her insurance company, clean her room, do laundry, and somehow look graceful while doing everything. 

Her mind inspected everything that she did, while nothing matched up to her expectations. How did they party all the time and still get their work done? How was Margaret so pretty and smart? Why was Bob dating Suzanna and not her? Her self-worth was entirely dependent on external validation. 

Marianne could not do anything for herself. Everything she did was to prove something to other people. But, it is all worth it, she would say as she worked herself to the bone every night. Marianne would stay up until the early hours of the morning, with her retainers and whitening strips in her mouth and acne cream covering her face. She felt like she needed to have the perfect face, the perfect body, the perfect grades, the perfect boyfriend, to have any value. 

Perfectionism seemed like a gift to her. It was something that made her stronger and more successful. However, perfectionism was slowly killing the joy inside of her. Activities that she previously enjoyed held no value to her. Marianne would not allow herself to swim because it did not burn enough calories. She needed to run every day, or she would not fit into that certain pair of pants. She needed to study every day or she would not get the 4.0 GPA that she told herself would make her happy. Achievements were her only motivation. 

Marianne wanted everyone to know what she was accomplishing all the time. If no one knew what she was doing, then what was the point? What was the point of doing anything if she was not accepted and loved by everyone around her? All she wanted was to be idolized and looked up to. Marianne wanted people to talk highly about her and to wonder how she did everything so well. 

Where, in any of her days, was there time for Marianne to be herself? For her to do activities that she truly loved? There were no minutes for relaxation, no hours for laughter, and meaningless fun. If she was not being productive with her time, then what was she doing? Nothing could ever be enough for Marianne. 

No one could see the turmoil that was inside of her. How are you doing? “Good,” she would always say. Whoever said anything besides “Good?” Why do we even ask how anyone is doing if we already know their answer? Marianne tried to convince herself that she was actually good anytime someone asked her how she was doing. I do not have any problems. I am doing well. How could I possibly be upset when I am succeeding in every area of my life? 

Sometimes, Marianne had an internal dialogue where she would finally stop to contemplate how she actually felt. Where did she find solace? Where can she find an escape when the walls of her world were constantly crushing her, forcing her to do more, push harder, work better.

Wake Forest Chapter of Her Campus