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Claudia (Year 11) is one of the Performing Arts Prefects for 2018/2019, otherwise known as one of the leaders of the performing arts cult. And she’s a perfectionist.
“Because I’m a perfectionist, I honestly didn’t know where to start when writing this speech. I have made so many edits and I’m still not sure if I like it. Anyway, then I thought maybe I’d start by asking you a question. What is perfection to you? See the clinical definition is, ‘Perfection: the condition, state or quality of being free of all flaws or defects.’ But I think the real definition should be, ‘A 10-letter word that doesn’t exist.’ Maybe it’s a prison or a straightjacket. Because I believe perfection is like a virus, a tumour, a growth. It infects the mind of those it attaches itself to, until eventually it destroys the host.
In a world of constant comparison, it is so easy to fall into the prison of perfection, especially in the age of social media, a literal device for people to compare themselves to other people’s highlight reels. So that’s why I would like to talk about comparison, a dangerous action that can highlight so called imperfections. One of the things for me personally was that in Year 7 I would compare my voice and vocal abilities to other people. Gosh I wish I was as good as her! I wish I had her voice! Or I wish my voice could do that, would run through my head. This comparison led me to want my voice to be free of flaws or imperfections.
Although this unrealistic desire to perfect my voice made me work hard, I’ve actually learnt that comparing yourself to others isn’t going to help you achieve your goals and will just hurt you. I’ve realised you’ve got to accept what you’ve been given, imperfections and all, and it’s up to you what you do with it. In the words of the Zumba lady that came in, ‘Shake what yo’ mumma gave ya!’ This can apply to everything, whether it be your musical talents, your own body, your actions, sporting, academic or theatre talents or whatever the funky thing is that makes you happy. With these, just do your best with what you’ve got, including your flaws.
Truthfully, I definitely was not the greatest singer when I was younger. My dad, being my dad, told me I was great, but ah, we all knew it wasn’t true. What my singing abilities are now - still with a lot of flaws - was not something I was just given. I worked with what I had and practised what I love every day. Even though I have been lucky to have opportunities, I still struggle, wanting my voice to be perfect and ‘good enough’. But what is good enough? Don’t we all want to feel good enough in everything? For everyone?
See, I believe ‘good enough’ is when you’ve worked hard and tried your best. Because comparing yourself, your body, your actions, your abilities, to other people is just hurtful to yourself. Because comparison only really has two negative outcomes: pride, where you think you’re better; or saddened because you think you’re worse in some way, pointing out your imperfections.
Instead, I encourage you all not to compare yourself, but to embrace what you’ve got for who you are, imperfections and all and just try your best, because at the end of the day, that’s all you can do. That’s what makes you more than good enough, it makes you great. And don’t strive for perfection because perfect people aren’t real, and real people aren’t perfect!
Claudia (Year 11)
Performing Arts Prefect