Important thoughts on privilege…

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My parents have given me an endless list of gifts. Private school all my life, an endless supply of toys and trips around the world that have changed my life and the way I think. Now, when I finished high school, they thought it was over, that they would have a break from my endless demands and needs. Yet, of course, I have high goals, and those goals often require a lot of money to be spent. I moved to Canberra, to study at one of the best universities in Australia, to go to one of the best colleges at that university, and thus began the same cycle they had to follow through with. I was blessed, they were more than willing to help me and pay. They wanted to give me everything I would ever need for me to reach my goals and dreams. However, things became hard. My father, working six days a week, driving for three hours a day to get to and from work, often having 10 hour days, was simply exhausted. My mother, became lonely and missed the ability for us to talk and spend time together. It made me question, when does it end? At what point do I stop expecting endless gifts from my parents that are causing struggles to their very own wellbeing and ability to function.

 

I realise, that having gifts constantly thrown at you, your ability to work hard and truly want something is lacking. In all my life, I have never felt the need to work to the point of exhaustion because in the back of my head, I always knew my parents would supply support for me, help give me that extra boost of privilege that I needed to get to where I wanted to be. I am what I always feared of being. Someone who expected things to be handed to me on a silver platter. To make things as easy as possible. I have never truly experienced hardship and worked to earn something. All major success in my life has simply been handed to me on a platter. This mind set that I am in leads to me simply expecting things, it leads to me forgetting how hard it is for some people to work to give me things. When does it all end? At what point is it my responsibility to stop and do things for myself?

 

These questions are all dependent on people’s opinions of course, some would say I should start paying and looking after myself as soon as I reach adulthood, some would say earlier and some would say never. I try to present myself to the world with the image that I expect myself to be the main support network at 18. However, this is the most incorrect thing I have ever said in my life. At this point in my life I am selfish, everything is about me and for me, in order for me to achieve imaginary goals that I don’t even know exist. College is a world where the majority have an expectation that their parents will simply pay and provide support for them. I have fallen equally into this mind-set, however I don’t have a family where it is automatic to assume we can afford everything with minimal work. A huge level of sacrifice is going into my ability to be here, and I am still miserable, I am unhappy, I am depressed and I am lost. So here comes the question of why should I expect my parents to pay for an endless supply of benefits and opportunities if I don’t even know how to use them, if I don’t even know what I’m using them for and if I don’t even know if it gives me a true sense of purpose and happiness.

 

The things you work for in life are the things that give you the most satisfaction and sense of achievement. So if all that I am doing is driving my family into the ground, in order for me to get a degree that I don’t even enjoy, am I really living my life in a way that is rewarding?

 

 

The Life of a Recovering Perfectionist

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Life is whole and complete when you are perfect. It’s a world for the rare, talented and gifted people to experience. The rest of us must either continue to live our unhappy lives of imperfection or die trying to be perfect. It’s a strange concept, perfectionism; the definition of the word according to the Oxford Dictionary is the “Refusal to accept any standard short of perfection.”

I, like many young people today, adopted the art form of perfectionism. Exactly as defined, I was intolerable of failure. Beginning in my early teen years, I continued this practice until I became the master of it. By Year 12, I seemed pretty damn successful. I was School Vice Captain, excelling in my studies, had lost 7kg of weight and even had a boyfriend. For a Year 12 student, I had it all.

Yet there was a catch; I was utterly miserable. This caused me endless confusion; how dare I be miserable! I had everything, I’d won the lottery of life, I was successful in so many ways. But this is the hidden terms and conditions when signing the commitment of perfectionism. There will always be more to ‘achieve.’

“I need to lose another 7kg.”

“Why am I always fighting with my boyfriend? Our relationship should be #couplegoals.”

“Am I somewhere below 90% on a test?!”

“No one at school recognises me.”

“I need to be a better leader.”

Perfectionism is like a drug; after the first taste, you crave more. It’s addictive to get the momentary feelings of gratification and wholeness, whether it’s an A+ on a test, hearing the masses cheer your name with glory, or seeing a lower number on the scales.

Yet there’s a catch, perfectionism is only momentary and soon after, you crave something beyond it. Just like a drug, I was never able to get enough. I never felt satisfied, in fact I was lonely, sad and always hungry for a deeper meaning to life than certificates crowding my bedroom walls.

There is a key word in that statement. Was. Whilst I still hold various characteristics of a perfectionist, I no longer identify as one. So how did I do it? How did I free myself of the drug of perfectionism? And why would I want to? Surely my life is more miserable now as I have given up my place in the rare world shared with very few? Here’s the secret about all those successful people you see up on a stage, television, and atop the corporate ladder: they all embrace and accept their imperfections. It is impossible to be utterly perfect. It is a never ending game which sucks you up and takes you away from substantial, meaningful fulfillment. In order to be successful, satisfied and hold a great level of understanding about the world and yourself, you use your imperfections to your advantage.

So, to all my striving perfectionists, I invite you to try something very simple. Look out in the world, and see something imperfect you love. For me it was always nature. To watch the messy leaves take over my front pavement, mismatched flowers in the garden, it was much more beautiful than any garden crafted to the point where it looks artificial. Accepting and learning to love the imperfections of our world is the first step to accepting yourself. To accept yourself for your imperfections is almost automatic after that.

Towards the end of the year, letting go of perfectionism became more evident in me. I began to look at myself in the mirror, and appreciate the little muffin top coming out from my jeans. I made decisions as a leader that others didn’t necessarily appreciate, yet I felt were best. I blame myself less for issues in my relationships and appreciate my friends more. I take more risks now. I get a bit tipsy. I go on spontaneous road trips and live life with much less planning.

The life of a perfectionist is restricting. It feels like a grip so tight over you that breathing becomes difficult, where the only way to go is deeper into the dark hole of being ‘better’. Accepting yourself for who you are is when you start to feel free. You begin to do things you otherwise would never consider. The issue with being a perfectionist is you never take risks, you always live on the safer side, missing out on many joys life has to offer.

To all my striving perfectionists out there, I tell you this:

Letting go of trying to be the greatest you can be is hard, that momentary feeling of success is addictive.

However I can say, as a recovering perfectionist, who is no longer the leader of anything, holds lower grades than expected, a few kilograms heavier and very single, I am as free as I have ever been. You will only experience true happiness, true success and true fulfillment if you let down your guard, throw away the goal of being perfect and actually embrace everything you and your life have to offer. I can safely tell you, it’s a hell of a lot more exciting that way.

 

The Claws of the Ocean

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The ocean, I feel, is a representation of humanity. People spend their entire lives trying to understand it, getting PhD’s, living on it for months or even years, producing a whole career out of it. Yet we are not even close to knowing everything about it. Frustrated, our curiosity leads us to keep investigating and to never give up. It inspires people to keep trying and to keep learning. In contrast, we have humans, equally if not studied more by various groups and organisations. Yet endlessly, unpredictable and frightening behaviour continues to throw history in the waters. We continue to engage in it, despite the never-ending fear brought on from both the ocean and humanity.

I am utterly terrified by the ocean. It’s waves like claws, waiting to pull you in and swallow you whole, with only the scream of the wind to help others remember you. Unpredictable, uncontrollable and dominating, all an essence of what humanity despises and dislikes. Why do some strange souls choose to spend years on it, studying it, within it? The one thing that trumps human fear, is human curiosity. The waves call to us, white see spray giving an essence of adventure, water on the coast like a beckoning finger, the rough clashes of colour sparking human curiosity. We are trapped by the beauty and danger of the ocean, forever playing the cruel game with it, where we ultimately never win. All of man’s creations, boats, fishing rods, submarines and peers are all consumeristic holograms, fooling us all that we have complete control and power over the beast of the sea.

We cannot handle our ability to control, and the ocean constantly tests this of us, our love and hatred for it is a game that has been played over centuries, and will continue to be played for centuries more.