Find your definition of perfect

Be the person you want to be


Kavana Gonur, Staff Writer

  Clear your mind and think. What is the one word you’d use to describe the jeans that fit you snugly?

  What is one word you’d use to describe your friend who seems to have the best grades?

  What is one word you’d use to describe Justin Bieber?

  For me, that one word is PERFECT.

  Okay, maybe not for the last question. The first definition of “perfect” in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary is “being entirely without fault or defect.”

  That’s exactly how I mean to describe almost every perfect thing in the world. And I mean, who wouldn’t? After all, if something is perfect, it must be of special value.

  Almost. Every. Perfect. Thing.

  There is one exception to this rule. That is when I turn the focus on myself. Because, you see, I think I am perfect.

  However, I don’t believe I am the exact denotation of the book.

  Jump to my sophomore year. I was about to receive my test from my Honors Pre-Calculus teacher. He finally called my name. “Kavana.” I plucked the test from his hand and, blushing, sat in my seat again.

  The grade: 65 percent. My reaction: internal screaming. Let’s just say that I don’t fit the Asian stereotype.

  You see, up until that point, I had never received a failing grade in any class in my life, let alone failed a math test. This is a girl who wants to be a neurosurgeon.

  I thought I’d been gifted with the ability to achieve all  As in every math class I had been in since elementary school.

  So this one test changed everything. This test pulled me from the sky and reminded me of the true definition of life – and no, I don’t mean the denotation of the word “life” either. From that day on, when I received anything lower than a B (OK, that’s an understatement), I told myself that I had failed.

  And in the end, I told everyone else I’d failed, too. In fact, even in the world of International Baccalaureate, where lower grades are common and a positive growth mindset is heavily encouraged, I still tell people of my “failures” to this very day.

  Cut to my first-ever speech tournament, where I had practiced my oratory – my persuasive speech on becoming a “Jack of All Trades” – with all my might.

  I was convinced I had worked harder than anyone else on the team, and that I would surely break to the final round … and they wouldn’t.

  For two rounds, I excitedly recited my speeches in front of warm judges and other unique speakers. I still remember myself beginning my speech with a quote from Hillary Clinton.

  However, when the finalists were posted, I was shocked to fail to see my name on the list. I, who had gone only once defeated in the debate tournament before, had failed to break to the best stage. When I made it home, I cried – cried for a couple of days, in fact.

  To make it worse, nearly everyone – four of the six of us –  who had entered that event from my school had broken to that final round. I thought the person who didn’t break with me didn’t try on his speech (and it turns out, he’s a good debater). I forgot the work I had undertaken to create that speech. I was demoralized and felt like an outcast.

  Forgive me for my arrogance, but I, who had worked so hard, who deserved that final round, had not been given my due. All because some parent judge … hated me.

  In the end, I began to stress out over myself. My mistakes turned into “lifelong” flaws, and I stressed over  how I had to erase them. To be as good as the freshmen who had broken before me.

  In this effort, however, I lost my friends. I lost my interest in my extracurriculars and my job (working at a Kumon center). I even lost my family, as my pent-up frustration would often lead to extreme outbursts of emotion whenever they tried to gently remind me of something.

  My passion for speaking and writing nearly died because of it.

  However, I was (all right, and still am) not the only one case of perfectionism. According to Lisa Natcharian, a consultant in gifted education, 30 percent of the general U.S. population suffers from perfectionism. It doesn’t seem like a lot of people, but believe me, it is.

  The effects vary from slightly picky, OCD-like tendencies to anorexia and low self-esteem. (In my case, it was a combination of OCD and low self-esteem.) I bet you can picture a few people, perhaps even yourself, who fall into this category.

  But what if I told you there’s a solution?

  A solution … to make you turn your mistakes into resolutions?

  I’ve found that the one thing we can allude to is paper. Every paper turned in to a teacher or a college application or a job application represents a part of us. It will be graded and evaluated holistically and realistically, and thus each part of our work must be flawless.

  Because, let’s admit it – we humans, who are inherently egoistic, all hate admitting our flaws in front of others.

  Yet, that is all the reason why we must toss the paper aside and consider ourselves as a puzzle. A puzzle with an infinite number of jigsaw pieces, each a part of our personality.

  We must accept that as perfectionists we should search WITHIN ourselves to find that inner piece, rather than stress over what society wants us to become.

  So if you’re missing athleticism, or intelligence or even kindness, you simply need to search for it within yourself.

  Because yes – even Justin Bieber found his beautiful personality within him. (Although, I’m still not a fan).