Chasing Perfection: You Are Enough

in·ad·e·qua·cy (n-d-kw-s) n. pl. in·ad·e·qua·cies

1. The quality or condition of being inadequate.
2. An instance of being inadequate; a failing or lack.
Today, I want to talk about inadequacy--something that I have constantly struggled with myself.

Personally, I cannot tell you how many times I've beaten myself up over something--be it a messed up stage performance or an exam grade that did not meet my expectations. The thing is, it wasn't contained to only situations.

I've felt insecure on several occasions, like what people thought of me, or how I feel like I'm not smart enough, or not pretty enough and etc. And I'm not the only one. I've spoken to many friends of mine who feel the exact same way--the subjects vary, but the inherent inadequacy is there.

Fact of the matter
Now, to the average person, these may seem like trivial things. First-World Problems. I mean, we're teenagers right? We should be struggling with issues like peer pressure and self-esteem, but what people don't know is how much it can affect you--both mentally and physically.

Why do we do this to ourselves? More often than not, I realized that insecurity is self-inflicted. A product of constant self-doubt and over-thinking.

Why do we demand so much of ourselves? Why do we constantly chase after materialistic things only to end up with more insecurity in our pursuit?

I don't know about you, but for me it has something to do with the image of perfection. I like portraying myself as an well-rounded person. You know the sort--the smart, overachieving stereotype--mostly because I admired people who could do almost anything and everything. I knew those girls, and I worshiped them. I wanted to be like them. Becoming that image of flawlessness was--and still is--an obsession of mine. I don't think I ever came close, but it didn't stop me from trying anyway.

This is what happened to me.
And believe me, I've tried. I studied as hard as I could force myself to, participated in as many co-curricular activities as I could, joining the prefectorial board  and the drama team as well as participating in debate and PBSM and house team duties. I tried my best to standout from the crowd. By mid-April of my senior year, I was overwhelmed.

I had so much to do, the amount of work I had was substantial, and the tasks just kept flooding in. For a while I was on the verge of giving up, worried that I couldn't commit fully to anything because I had stretched myself far too thin. And that was exactly what it was--I was asking too much of myself.

I missed the first day of my term exams due to debate, and was continuously missing class due to my responsibilities and errands to run. And when I was in class, I was tired all the time and constantly anxious, and I slept through most lessons when I was supposed to be paying attention.

I got a pretty rude wake up call when my mid-terms approached. I didn't have the motivation to study, mostly because I was tired all the time, and I had a lot of catching up to do and very little time to do it. I sat for the exam, and for the first time in my upper secondary life, I scored quite badly and got a scolding for it. That was when it dawned upon me what I was doing to myself. And after a lot of consideration, I decided to cut down on my activities and focused more on my studies instead.

It was a hard decision to make, but it basically came down to the fact that it wasn't making me happy. I was sad or angry all the time and stressed up over what I had to do, and it was just too much for me to handle. Thankfully, it paid off and I eventually managed to score decently in my trials and SPM.

Take it easy.
I guess what I'm trying to say is...don't be too hard on yourself. There's nothing wrong with striving to be better, in fact it is a trait that most people seem to lack nowadays (another rant of mine, but I'll save that for another day). Improvement is always a good thing, attempt to reach greater heights--do it even if it makes you uncomfortable because you might just end up surprising yourself, but don't do it at the expense of your emotional health.

I remember once, my English teacher in form three told me that "Stress is good", and I agree--to a certain extent. I believe that stress can be beneficial--it pushes you to do more, and therefore you achieve more, probably exceeding your own expectations of your own capabilities during the process. But like everything else in this world, everything comes with a limit.

It's okay to say 'you know what? I've hit the ceiling, I don't think I can take it anymore.'. It is okay to do that. No one should ever expect the world from a person anyway. We're only human, and there's only so much that we can do.

I think it necessary to have that kind of drive and determination. It's okay for you to push yourself, but you don't have to drive yourself over the edge. And this goes for everything else in life as well--how you look, what people think about you--it doesn't matter. At the end of the day, it's what you think and feel about yourself that matters, and if to you that image is already distorted, what more to others?

More often than not, all our worries are insignificant, and that's just what they are--inconsequential, minuscule worries.

What I'm trying to tell you is...
French writer Michel de Montaigne once wrote, "The greatest thing in the world is to know how to belong to oneself."

You do enough. Stop beating yourself up for what you can't do, and think about the things that you can do.

You have enough. Don't think about what you don't have, think about what you already do have.

You are enough. Don't ask for more, strive to be a better version of yourself and nobody else.
It's okay to be just okay. You don't have to conquer the world; learn to conquer yourself first. Rejoice in your own uniqueness, because there's no one else out there like you.

And guess what? That's pretty darn amazing in itself.
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