Abolish Little Miss Perfect

Tuesday, November 23

By Francesca Peri Brusa

"You've scored a good one with this one. She's naturally good at school, so she will never need any assistance!" cheered my elementary-school teacher at my first parent-teacher meeting. My parents were delighted and promised to buy me anything I wanted if I kept it up. That's when it started. My sister wasn't as good as I was, so she needed more attention than I did. My classmates weren't as mature as I was, so I had to help them. And when I scored anything lower than an A, "you can do better," they said. I wasn't as pristine, as prime, as perfect. So, I pushed myself since I was as young as 7 years old to be the most perfect version of myself at school. That's how grades and trophies became my way to measure my worth. The better I was doing at school, the better I felt about myself. But, as soon as my grades slipped the tiniest bit, my world fell apart. When classmates came over to compare their grades with mine and yelled "I got a better grade than her! She's not as smart as we think she is!" I wanted to cry until I had no more tears left. That's how I became Little Miss Perfect. 

The gifted kids, are people who have been praised so much during their childhood because of their academic performance that they believe they are only worthy of affection and attention if they perform greatly at school. As time goes by, this pressure to succeed leads to mental health issues like anxiety. As we are told their whole lives that we are better than everyone else, we take on as much responsibilities as possible because "I'll do it better if I do it myself." This leads to we overcompromising and stressing out over the simplest tasks because we put too much pressure on ourselves. Also, we fear failure because, in our minds, we are simply not allowed to fail. So, this leads to an intense perfectionism which is not healthy. We push themselves to be perfect all the time, in every aspect of life, when in reality that is not possible for a human being. But, as we are perfect, we cannot ask for help. This intensifies the feelings of anxiety and, usually, loneliness as it feels that no one could possibly be feeling the same. 

That's not true; many people feel that way. So much so that gifted kid burnout became a popular trend on TikTok. This happens when we realize that we can't control everything all the time, so we become depressed and demotivated because if everything can't be perfect then it won't be. However, this should not be romanticized as it sometimes is on TikTok. This can deeply affect a person's mental health to really extreme extents. And as we are conditioned to believe we cannot ask for help, our mental health just keeps getting worse and worse and worse and worse. 

But, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Building a healthier mindset is not easy but it definitely is possible. The most effective way to get better is therapy. This might sound obvious but it is incredibly hard to accept that you need therapy, especially for a gifted kid, as asking for help is one of the hardest things to do as it would mean accepting that we are not perfect. It is hard, I know, but I'm sure that talking to a professional is the easiest way to deal with mental health issues. But, I know that this is not available to everybody, so there are other ways to get better. Firstly, we need to stop taking so much responsibilities. It is impossible for a person to be perfect all the time. Human beings are naturally flawed. So, accept it. It is a hard journey to do so but not impossible. Once this pressure is lifted from your shoulders, you will start feeling more free to be who you really are or who you really want to be. Also, whenever you're feeling low, it is very important that these feelings are expressed somehow, whether it is by singing, screaming, crying, talking to a friend or family, writing, painting, excercising, making music, meditating, or any other ways that you might express your feelings. Although dealing with mental health is complicated and confusing, a better future is conceivable. 

Recently, I started looking at universities to study at after high school. We all know the story about how important grades are to universities and, although that is true for some, it isn't for all. My dream college does not care about academic achievements for the application process. When I found this out, I was devastated because my whole life I had worked towards being the best in my school. I even considered not going to my dream school because it wasn't prestigious enough. Thinking about it now, it honestly sounds ridiculous. How distinguished the school or college that you go to will not determine how successful you will be in life because, at the end of the day, no one will remember about that hateful B that you got in Maths when you are applying for a job or meeting new people. The truth is nobody cares. A person is so much more than good grades and golden trophies, so let go of unnecesary pressures and start living more freely. Your self-worth cannot be based on grades and medals, so let's abolish little miss perfect once and for all.

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