By Tyler Hartley, NSU Student
I was born in Slidell, a pretty small, yet very interesting city right outside of New Orleans. Growing up, my family was very much structured as a military style home meaning, that we had responsibilities that were to be done with no questions asked. This mindset never left, and caused me equal benefits and problems. My mom never told us any information about my dad ever coming home with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder); but I am not dumb. I know that more than half of all deployed soldiers return home with some level of the disorder.
I was never too close with my dad. I was never a “daddy’s girl.” Our relationship was average, until a few years ago. The relationship broke down completely, during my eighth-grade year, after he returned from Afghanistan. The complete disconnection from everyone I had known for my entire educational career the year before I started high school was already stressful enough. I had to leave relationships I learned with, and people I grew with throughout the beginning of my whole life. Nevertheless, my dad returned, with a whole new attitude towards only me. I have two sisters, but I was the only one treated differently.
This unfamiliar person, with this new ugly attitude that I had no choice but to respect led to the beginning of my honest downfall. Weeks after my dad came home, I got so tired of being ignored and denied the love I saw my sisters getting, I began to strive to be the best at everything I did. I began to chase this unattainable goal of perfection. I wanted to be perfect because he would have to acknowledge it; he would have to. If I was perfect, he would have to acknowledge all the good that I did.
This was a great plan until my sophomore year of high school. It was the worst year of my life; relationships ended that I thought would never and I took it all so hard. My mom realized it and asked me to talk to her one night so I did, and I cried to her. Talking to her helped me realize a lot, but nothing hit me harder than when she told me her biggest fear for me was that I thought I had to be perfect. I started crying so hard. Before this moment, I thought being perfect would give me my desired outcome: love and attention I felt I was being denied for a few years.
I stopped looking to reach that unattainable place I’d started looking for not too long ago. A couple weeks passed, and I realized that the idea of perfection was overrated. For one, I wasn’t doing it for myself. It’s okay to not be perfect, and not doing something perfect is acceptable.
At 18-years-old, I’m doing everything I do in the best way and to the best of my ability. Today, I’m being everything I can be, it’s not perfect, but not being perfect is okay, and human. My dad and I still are not close at all; it doesn’t even bother me anymore. Trying to predict his opinion got so tiring, so I decided I didn’t care for it anymore. I am living for only myself now.
Trying to be perfect caused me to lose myself for some time, while I was trying to become an ideal I thought would mean something to my dad. Deciding that being perfect was unnecessary led me to become a very independent, self-sufficient, open minded individual. I don’t really struggle with the idea of being perfect anymore. I’m doing my best right now, and anything else is not very concerning to me.