When it comes to work and studies, I was all about getting perfect scores in my academic endeavors because I wanted to live my “dream life”. I set out to write perfect essays, answer all the exams questions perfectly, and by the end of my education, I would have a perfect resume to impress. I was made to believe that only the perfect students, those who are the cream of the crop get to have the perfect life. They are the ones who would be hired by prestigious companies and remunerated with truckloads of money. In fact, I was convinced by the articles and books written by “careers experts” that I had to start planning for a perfect career trajectory, ideally, one that goes on for 10 years, simply because failing to plan is planning to fail.
Of course, I held on to these pieces of advice like ultimate words of wisdom for my soul.
When it came to love and relationships, I was also adamant on finding the perfect life partner, dreaming about the perfect happy ever after, and raising perfect children in a perfect home. Disney drilled into me that I deserved nothing less than a perfect happy ending with a perfect prince who could fight dragons and were dressed in shiny armour. MTV showed me what a perfect home should look like by giving me peeks into celebrities’ homes on MTV Cribs. MTV also made me hopeful about having the perfect celebration, just like the girls in My Super Sweet Sixteen as that is how my parents (should) would show their perfect love for me.
Without a doubt, I diligently absorbed all this information like a sponge in water.
Besides, I worshipped the idea that perfections could be bought with money. I was always on the lookout for the perfect laptop built to perform at high efficiency while being able to withstand the accidental drops and falls as a result of my clumsiness. This is because advertisements screamed at me, saying that as a smart consumer I should know what my needs are and there are computer companies out there which would have the perfect computer made for me. Needless to say, I was on the continuous pursuits for the perfect everyday bag, the perfect pair of walking shoes, the perfect eyeliner, the perfect moisturiser, the perfect necklace that goes with the perfect top. I read articles in magazines. I watched shows on TV. I went through pages of reviews in the internet. I took my “research” very seriously.
I was obsessed.
I was addicted.
I was impossible.
I was motivated to achieve the unattainable ideal goals and attain the best goods or services, in the spirit of, “everything is possible!” I bought into the promises that I deserved nothing but the most perfect, most valuable.
I became an obsessive compulsive monster. I was a fascist of perfectionism. I wanted everything to be perfect. I wanted perfection in every aspect of my life.
However, the truth is, the perfect laptop would one day be obsolete and no longer efficient. It is a matter a time before the perfect everyday bag goes out of fashion, and even wears out from everyday usage. The perfect happy ending could come in the form of a painful divorce and breakup. And, getting a brand new BMW coupe for your 16th birthday is not an indication of your parents’ perfect love for you. Besides, it is not remotely possible to have celebrity DJs showing up at your birthday parties unless you were willing to splurge hundreds and thousands of dollars.
As for the perfect and bright future that I had dreamt for myself, that was crushed into pieces the moment rejection letters started to flood my inbox. I was reminded repeatedly that I was not the perfect candidate for those positions. The promise that I would be on my way to making millions as long as I have a perfect academic background turns out to be a deception because in the real world, it takes more than perfect scores to succeed. And, these success stories that I was so aspired to were usually the exceptions and not the rule.
Needless to say, I was always left with disappointments, frustrations, and unspeakable suffering because this unquenchable desire for perfections in everything would never be fulfilled.
This desire for perfection is merely an addiction cultivated by the world that we currently live in. It is a world I have been trying to escape from. Thus, as of now, all I ever want for myself is to be relieved from this insatiable desire.
I might succeed or fail, I might even relapse in the future, but that is perfectly fine because I am not aiming for a perfect recovery.
Ai Ming has always been passionate about popular culture. Ironically, it is from this love for the culture industry that she hopes to bring people’s attention to the deceptions implicit in mass-mediated contents.