To give you some context dear reader – my whole life I have held myself to these obscene standards. By no fault of my parents, friends, other family members or teachers, I’ve always had these high expectations of myself. In reality, I’m my biggest critic. I’ve always had to be near the top of my class, my marks had to be at least in the 80’s for me to be happy, I had to be working and I could not disappoint anybody..at all.
Unfortunately, because of that – I disappointed myself for a long time. Back in high-school I had a bit of a rough go. I hope you don’t read into this as one of those ‘oh my goodness I hated high-school even though my life was perfect’ stories but I guess I can’t control how you interpret this story. I can only control how I tell it so here we go.
When I started grade 9, I became a version of myself I didn’t like. Gone was my happy-go-lucky, ‘it’s okay to stand out and wear cheetah tights to school’ attitude. Introduced was a shyer girl who retired the tattoo printed leggings, wore eyeshadow and mascara everyday, spent more time in the morning on my face and hair than eating, and lost her ability to be confident in herself. Somewhere along my transition to high-school I shut my old self down and decided she wasn’t good enough to be herself and had to tone it down to fit in. Chalk it up to post-bullying, I’m not really sure. But grade 9 passed by uneventful and I was a lemming. Then we bring in grade 10; one of the worst years of my life. My sister was diagnosed with cancer, my A average started to dip and I couldn’t stand listening to my friends ‘problems’ that just paled in comparison to my sister’s because they weren’t going through chemotherapy. I pushed many people away, was sad and angry a lot of the time and almost gave up. Then she got better and was cleared with a clean bill of health. My marks went back up and by the end of high-school I had graduated with an 89. something average, got two scholarships from high-school and entrance one for the university I was attending, and struggled with body weight consuming laxatives for a bit of time and skipping some meals because I needed to be the perfect size with the perfect average. Emily – little miss perfect.
Then we get to university. Again, for the first year I was doing well. My eating habits were awful because I worked so often on school and jobs to have a steady flow of income, so I frequently missed meal times at residence. My marks were super high putting me on presidents list both semesters. I had my first serious relationship that had its flaws but I thought I was in love so I let it be – I mean..isn’t that what love is? You hang out with the person all the time and even if you feel down about yourself sometimes because of things they do, it’s okay because you love them and they are just as shy as you are..right? It took me a good year and half to realize that wasn’t what love is but hey – I’m better off for it now. My second year I encountered some other people who frequently let me know how awkward and weird I was. I joined clubs that took up much of my time and every time I missed one tiny thing I ripped myself apart for it. I got involved in a few toxic friendships that thankfully ended and I made myself a promise to stop worrying about disappointing others. Finally, the summer of my 2nd year going into my 3rd year – I just about gave up. I decided no more relationships, leave all the clubs I’m apart of, I wanted to leave school and I just really did not want to be doing anything. I was fed up with the place I was in and with most of the elements of my life.
That brings us to September of this school year (2016). Although I was dedicating less time to my studies and more time to work which I loved, my marks were basically the same. I would sometimes do essays the night before but it turns out some of my best written work is written under pressure. I even got to do a final research paper (kind of like a thesis) on the fashion industry which I never thought possible with my undergrad in political science. I met one of the most positive and wonderful human beings I’ve ever met and thanks to his persistence and charm, I’m dating someone who supports me unconditionally and reminds me everyday that I’m not weird in a bad way, and tells me I’m beautiful the way I am. I hate to say I am the kind of girl who needed another person to feel good about themselves, but I think after being shut down by so many relationships (whether that be partners or friends or colleagues) year after year, that burst of positive energy finally set me on a good path. With school, I decided to put myself first and stop listening to everyone else who was trying to control my life.
And that brings us to now. I’ve decided to leave my university and finish my degree though continuing education and a few misc. courses at another university closer to my best friend, little sister, and this guy who’s been such a positive role model in my life. My best friend has always been the one to help me through the negative stuff going on in my life so living near her is something that I’m doing for my happiness – regardless of what other friends say. I can finish my degree anywhere so why not remove myself from a city that has nothing to offer me and move somewhere with a small town, artsy vibe? Fun Fact; I also just got my midterm marks back last night: an 86, a 78 and the worst mark I’ve gotten in my undergrad – a 69. And to be honest? I’m the happiest I’ve been in a long time. Sure, that’s a terrible mark by my standards but why punish myself for it? You know what I was doing instead of studying for that exam? I spent time with my family and played outside, I went to my boyfriends hockey game with my family, and I actually ate breakfast and lunch. I was doing the things that made me happy. And now? I’m even more dedicated to putting my time into writing a killer paper to offset the 69, and I am still going to keep doing the things that make me happy. Finally I realize, the only person who cares about my grades is me. The only person they affect is me. The only person I can disappoint right now is me. So why punish myself for doing the things that make me happy? Sure I’m going to keep working hard to maintain a solid average but I need to loosen the reigns a little bit and allow myself to fail sometimes. I won’t please everyone, and I will never be perfect – so why not focus on just making myself happy for once?