May 06, 2005
The Tyranny of Perfection
Today was the last day before graduation. All the grades are tallied, all the courses finished. I scraped by with a D in the Phoenix project and a couple of B's in other classes. My overall GPA dropped from a 3.97 to a 3.86. This morning, we had a senior breakfast (wonderfully tasty) when we got to relax. During the open mike time, I got up and shared some of the lessons I've learned during the semester, chiefly about grades. I basically made the simple case we've all heard before, that grades don't matter as much as we make them out to. And certainly that has been increasingly driven home to me in the last few semesters ... I think the realization that my primary academic motivation was to get perfect grades was probably what cracked my motivation to excel. I don't want to be so shallow. I don't want to be a slave to such an obviously biased standard.
But this evening, I was again reminded of how deep my perfectionism runs. Tonight was the awards banquet at LeTourneau. As they gave out the medals for the various honors, I cheered and clapped and had a great time. Apparently, they hadn't had to time to factor in my recent GPA drop (I'm still within the summa cum laude range, but I have dropped), so I was one of the last people called as they went up the ascending ladder of grades. I went up, honored as having only one B ... and then they called the list of the few people who achieved a 4.0. Something inside twisted horribly. Everything turned sour. You see, to my ugly self, it doesn't matter how well I do. What matters is who does best. I hate that part of me ... but I can't seem to get rid of him. I am him, really. There is a part of me that longs desperately to be the very best ... to be perfect, surpassed by none. How I wish it weren't there!
We humans are so interesting. We always do things like this ... we always separate people into winners and losers ... into the many, who are ordinary, and the few, who are exceptional. It's the way we motivate people to do well - we heap honor on the few in an attempt to motivate everyone else to rise to that standard. I recognize that. But it's so bitter to recognize that I will never be the best. I will never be the one in the center stage. I know that this is a disappointment everyone faces, but I guess for me, I've never really come to grips with it. It might be because I'm so close to the center. If I just tried a little harder, I think, I could make it! I know it's shallow, I know it's fake ... but how desperately I want to be the best. To be lauded and recognized as the very best, without peer. How deep arrogance runs in my soul! I cannot get it out.
God, forgive me. Forgive me for these constant comparisons against others on a false scale. Forgive me for my pride and my arrogance. More than anything else, forgive me for trying to get my worth apart from You. It's such a temptation to think that if I could make it, if I could be the best , then I would be somebody! Then I would have honor. Then I could hold my head up. God forgive me ... I am somebody because of the simple fact that You made me. That You love me. That You have adopted me into Your family. God, help me find my worth in You.
To everyone who achieved honors, my sincere congratulations. To everyone who's finishing, who's graduating, my sincerest congratulations. It still hurts. It still aches. I wasn't good enough is the constant refrain inside. But it will go away.
Everyone comes to this point. Everyone faces it eventually - the certain, deadly knowledge that I'm not good enough. Some people seem to accept that. Other people spend their lives trying to make the grade, trying to be good enough. I just wish that I could get the cruel Satanic hook of pride out of me. I do accept that my worth is in God's eyes through the His adoption, not through myself. But ... who will rescue me from this body of death? Praise be to Jesus, through Christ our Lord. There is now no condemnation, for all who are in Christ ...
A very special congratulations to you, Becky.
This post has been classified as "Soliloquy"