A Series of Painfully Imperfect Events


Anna Roberts, Visuals Editor

One quote that has stuck with me is from one of my favorite movies, Little Women. “I want to be great or nothing,” I heard in 2019, and, as a freshman with big expectations and crushing perfectionism, I thought that seemed about right. Well, it wasn’t. So, in honor of my time as a high schooler, here are just a few of my not-great moments. Perhaps you’ll find an inkling of solidarity, or at least humor, in my blunders.

Like on my first day of ski instructing, when I was hauling the beginners up and down the bunny hill. I was exhausted, regretting whatever cruel twist of fate had brought me there, and praying that I hadn’t just dislocated a 6-year old’s knee hoisting her up onto her tiny skis. When I took off my helmet to catch a breath, I heard the girl’s voice below me. “Why do you look so sweaty?” she inquired in the innocent and genuine way in which a kid might ask about the weather. Not great.

Or like the first simulated conversation we did in AP Spanish. When, with a cheap plastic headset on and armed with my 5+ years of Spanish classes, I could hardly comprehend the prompt. After catching about 3 words of Marisa’s rapid inquisition, sitting in stunned silence after the cue, and fumbling out the words “si” and “bueno” a few times, I walked out of the class certain I had a score of 2 in my future if blessed with a particularly kind grader. So, not great.

Or like the time I decided to try oil painting, because ‘how hard could it really be?’ and was promptly humbled when I realized that oil paint, is, in fact, not water soluble only after I had ‘Prussian Blue’ smeared on my desk, my jeans, the rag I had been using, and all of my nice brushes. Yeah. Not great.

But slowly, tripping over every new phrase, putting on my most convincing ‘teacher’ face every weekend, and scrubbing my brushes clean, I learned. And bit by humbling bit, I grew. And now looking back at all my moments of cluelessness, the only thing I feel is pride. Because I’ve found that growing is not about succeeding. It’s about trying. It’s about all the times we fail miserably, all the times we are really, embarrassingly bad, and all the times we choose to do it anyways.

So, my advice for other students? Try even if you are not great. Pick up a new hobby, join a team, apply for a job, do something that scares you. Even if it is messy, and unpolished, and so painfully imperfect. If I have learned one thing in high school it is this: if you want to grow, you need to let go of your need to be great. Be bad. Be mediocre. But by all means, don’t let yourself be nothing.