As a child, I was far from being the brightest person in the class. It caused me such great anxiety as I would watch my classmate’s eyes light up with an understanding of how to do the simple schoolwork we were given because to me it looked like it was a foreign language. During my middle years of elementary school, I always needed extra help with math and English. My cheeks burned with embarrassment because I didn’t want anybody to know that I was struggling. The last year of elementary school was the start of my strive for perfection because I realized that I never wanted the “dumb kid” label again. Although school was full of anxiety, I always had the safety of my home to comfort.

The goal to get straight A’s was the start of my self-inflicted disease of settling only for perfection. I became a chameleon. I always seemed to be changing myself in order to please others by copying the way they talk, behave and feel. It was as if I was wearing a mask made of mirrors that reflected everything but the way that I truly am. I am so used to this mask that I don’t even notice it until I am finally home where I can be myself. As a Chameleon, I have lost my identity as it has been corrupted by my need to change. I have realized that when I return home after hours of faking who I am, it is only then that I can be myself.

My goal for perfection has lowered my self-esteem and made it very difficult to love myself and how I look. In middle school, I was always comparing myself to other girls. I realized that I am wider, shorter, and heavier than an average girl. My hair isn’t glossy but is frizzy, dull, and impossible to manage. One Sunday, my harsh feelings on my body were so bad that I didn’t want to go to church. I thought that if I went there everyone would judge me for how ugly I was. None of my dresses fit right, my hair was a mess, and my eyes were puffy from my breakdown. The amount of times that I have pinched the stubborn fat that I wished would disappear is too many to count. At home, I don’t care whether my hair is bad, that my belly is bloated, or that I’m wearing old pajamas from 6th grade because I am finally free from the judging eyes of my peers.

Home isn’t tangible like a house, It’s a feeling. The feeling that lets me know that it’s okay to prioritize my mental health instead of grades and that It doesn’t matter what I look like. A home tells me that as long as I’m trying my best, I don’t have to be perfect.