Personal Perspective: Maddy Miller

Backpage Editor Maddy Miller explores her struggles with being a perfectionist and explains she has realized that true happiness cannot be forced.

Ever since I was a child, I’ve had an unhealthy craving for perfection. I found it hard to be satisfied by what I had already achieved, and could only focus on what I had yet to. I possessed a mental checklist consisting of all major aspects of my life. If I considered an aspect to be perfect, I checked the box. If not, I strived to make it perfect.

The root of my issue was insecurity, as well as an immense craving for control. Primarily revolving around academics and how intelligent I presented myself to be to others, I constantly pushed myself to achieve the pinnacle of success in everything I did, despite my mental health declining as a result of it.

When sophomore year began, I was faced with an extreme personal hardship, conveniently at the same time distance learning began. Throughout my life, I had struggled with anxiety to a much lesser degree, but as the year began, I had fully given into both my anxiety and a newly formed depression. While facing my conflict, I made my best effort to stay on top of my academics, but they slipped beneath me because I had become so consumed in my struggle.

I understood the pandemic was a difficult time for most people, but I was so ashamed of my decline that I couldn’t help but blame myself. As my family insisted I began attending therapy, I refused to admit I needed any help. My life was suddenly so much further from my unrealistic desire of perfection.

By the time sophomore year had come to an end, I had earned the lowest grades of my high school career. Summer quickly flew by and junior year was suddenly right around the corner.

Fearful I was going to struggle severely since I was taking a number of advanced classes, I walked into school with low self-esteem and more insecurity than I knew how to handle. I struggled enormously in the beginning of the school year. My days frequently resulted in panic attacks in the B-Building bathroom and pep talks from my friends, which were much appreciated.

Within the first few weeks of junior year, I had given in to my family’s insistence on therapy. I went in disappointed that I had allowed myself to reach such a low point and approached therapy with hesitation. After attending therapy for as little as a month, I noticed a change, not only in my daily mood, but in my mindset toward perfection.

I had found peace within the storm, and came to the realization I had longed for: You will only strain yourself trying to attain perfection. The longer you fixate on it, the more it will consume you.

With this, I stopped feeling the need to control everything. I began appreciating the amount of dedication and effort I put into things instead of their outcome. Through my experience, I have learned happiness is achievable, and the less you try to force it, the more genuine it becomes.

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