Perfection is Unattainable

By Silvia Popoca, Fellow Class of 2017
George Washington University

The best type of advice my mentor has given me is to let go of my worries and to be okay with making mistakes. I am a perfectionist. I have always been. So, when I make a small mistake, it feels like a failure to me. In high school, I would complain when I got a 95% on a test because I thought I should’ve studied harder to get a perfect score. At the time, this drive toward perfection motivated me to do my best. I told myself this was the reason I graduated at the top of my class and got into a great university. 

When I got to college, I continued to be just as hard on myself and soon enough, I felt that I could not keep up to my own standards. In high school, I always felt like I could keep up with the work and so well, but it was the opposite in college. In college, I felt like I was surrounded around people way smarter than me, and I always felt out of place. I still told myself I had to get the best grades because if I didn’t I wouldn’t get into the best law school possible, and I would disappoint my family. So, I spent every second studying. This did help me improve my grades, but I felt unhappy. I was only focused on getting the best grades instead of enjoying everything I was learning. 

I continued this way until last semester when I talked to my mentors. When I talked to them, I told them how much I was struggling they reminded me that perfection was unattainable. My mentors, Megan and Beth told me they were not perfect students when they were in college either. Yet, they reminded me, that they went on to go to law school and become lawyers. My mentor Abe told me that in college, he struggled with his GPA but he too managed to go Law School and is about to graduate. After confiding about my struggles with them, I realized that work ethic is important to succeed. That’s what made me a great student in high school and still makes me one in college. Trying to get perfect grades only stresses me out even more and it impairs my learning. Now I try to focus on learning the most, I find that I enjoy my classes a lot more, and as a result I feel like and equal with my peers. Even when I do not always get the grades I want, I am proud of the work I put into the class. It hasn’t been easy; I often have to remind myself that it is okay to struggle and that I don’t have to be perfect. Every time I feel like I am struggling again, I talked to my mentors, and they remind me once again, that I don’t have to be perfect to succeed.