My Epiphany On The Danger Of Perfectionism
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Health and Wellness

My Epiphany On The Danger Of Perfectionism

A story about an instance that forced me to change my opinion about myself

My Epiphany On The Danger Of Perfectionism

I had a very peculiar childhood.

Growing up in an Asian household, I was expected to do great things in my life. Ever since I was just a student in elementary school, my grandmother would make me take supplementary classes at night to make sure that I remained in the top 1% of my school. I was given no other option by to constantly work and improve myself so that I could fulfill the expectations that my family had for me: to be the best of the best. I did not have time to even have time to do things that I enjoyed. On top of my grandmother's relentless need to have a precocious grandson, I also had to cope with the extremely competitive atmosphere that was inherent to the Vietnamese education. Yes, you heard that right. Students are trained to deal with the stress and the pressure of getting good grades and winning coveted regional and national academic prizes at a very young age. In an environment where no errors were acceptable and perfect grades were the norm, I was convinced that the only way to succeed in life was to become a perfectionist.

Time flew by, and it was time for me to apply to college. With the help and support of my mother, I decided to leave my hometown and moved to the States so that I could have the opportunities to pursue my interests and to break free from the prison in which I spent almost 18 years of my life struggling to escape. For the first time in forever, I was free to do whatever I wanted. But the memory of the past kept haunting me, and I found it so hard not to fall back to the old habits. I felt like I had to impress my friends and make my family back home proud by getting into top-notch, elite universities. I was too consumed by the desire to be the best of the best that I overlooked, even despised, all other less prestigious schools that could have given me generous scholarships and could have given me the education I needed to pursue my dream of becoming a doctor.

I remember beginning my college application in September, just two weeks before the deadline for a very selective full-ride scholarship offered by QuestBridge – a program that helps connect high-achieving students from underprivileged backgrounds with educational opportunities at leading universities in the United States. I was confident that I had what it took to win the scholarship and finally become someone I thought I wanted. A month later, I got the results back and discovered that I made it to the final round. It was a huge confidence boost, but with that came a growing sense of arrogance and complacency. I started to take the whole application very lightly and did not spend as much time crafting strong essays and building my resume as I should have. As expected, I slowly and steadily received the one thing that all students dreaded to see: letters of rejection.

At first, I thought that getting rejected was inevitable, but I never expected to get the same letter from every single school that I applied to through QuestBridge. With each rejection letter that came to my mailbox, I felt a sickened wave of discouragement and regret sweeping over me. By the end of that month, once I had my fair share of crying and self-pitying, I knew that it was time for me to get up and fix the mess that I made. I simply could not let this one failure define me. I immediately filled out my application to Creighton, a school that my high school advisor had recommended to me my junior year. To say that it was the best decision that I have ever made in my life is an understatement. Creighton literally saved my life. It saved me from the identity that I never wanted; the identity that had been haunted me for so long; the identity that had been preventing me from achieving my real, actual potential, not something unrealistic and farfetched.

P/S: Although that part of my life wasn't the happiest and wasn't the one that I was proud of, I wouldn't be the person I am today if it wasn't for my grandmother and her effort to push me to my very limit. I love you grandma!

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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