Stop Striving for Perfection

Author: Sana Madhavan, Barrington High School '20

As females in a society that has long been advantageous towards men, we have been trained to achieve perfection in order to be heard and seen in a professional, serious manner. We work our hardest, but are still swept in the current of male dominance, especially in science, math, and technological fields which are rapidly becoming part of our increasingly digital future. We take a cut in pay just to have a chance to break into careers. And in all of this, we convince ourselves that perfection is the only way out. We stress ourselves needlessly and work tirelessly to prove ourselves. The same principle of striving to overachieve to be viewed in the same light applies to race and current events have only highlighted that. People of color have to prove their worth, and even then, they are belittled by those who are even less qualified than them, simply because of their circumstances assigned at birth, outside of their control.

My best friend is African American and she was at the top of our class, graduating with a near-perfect GPA as well as being on multiple sports teams. However, when she walks into a classroom, she still doesn’t feel welcome and included. Black people have to go out of their way to escape negative stereotypes while constantly fearing for their safety and well-being. It amazes me how people can succumb to a trait so low as merely the color of skin to define others’ potential and value. Combined with being a female, POC and other minorities are at a loss of privilege over their white female counterparts.

As a female looking to emerge in the field of computer science, I have also had to work hard to prove that I’m as capable as the many boys in my class who have had the means to break into the field much earlier. Maybe they grew up exposed to computing or were trusted with hands-on projects. Because I’m a girl, it was assumed that I do not harbor that same gift for tinkering or analyzing code. So I had to prove my worth, yet still did not feel brave enough to pursue engineering after high school. However, struggles based on gender are no parallel to the deeply engraved prejudice residing in America. We have to fix our broken system and learn that everyone is equal, and until we learn that, I and my fellow youth will continue to exercise our First Amendment, the right to protest for what we believe in.

To my fellow overachievers and minorities, please don’t feel you have to compensate for what’s outside of your control. Stop striving for perfection, because you will always be anxious and never let flaunt your true talents. Instead, let others in on the real you, and they might be shocked at the down to earth confidante they find. Yes, it may be hard breaking that barrier, but please keep fighting, because if you scream loud enough, one day the world will hear you.

Photo by Kai Hashimoto