Sometimes, it feels like I need to rehearse my life. If I’m not prepared for every moment, every conversation, every possible scenario—then how will I know how to react? Or rather—act? I’m not good at being put on the spot. In fact, more often than not, I absolutely suck at it.
I think back to the times a teacher has called on me in class. The one thing I won’t miss about school now that I’ve graduated. Being called on in a classroom setting when I’m not expecting it is like being hit by a sneaker wave at the beach. I knew it was a possibility, but still didn’t see it coming. I react how I’d react if I was at the ocean—I drown.
I remember sometimes finding myself with nothing to say, drawing a blank on everything I’ve learned in the history of my education. Other times I would find myself stumbling over my words as I tried to create some sort of meaning, and convey it in an eloquent and socially acceptable way that made me appear as smart as I’m supposed to be. Or at least as intelligent as those around me pretended they were. There were also times when I spoke with such ease and conviction that I wondered what I was even talking about in the first place.
It felt like I struggled to live up to the expectations of those around me. Like I struggled to be a part of the conversation it felt like everybody else had no problems with. As though I couldn’t measure up to the bar society had set.
In reality, nobody really cares what I say because they’re more concerned with their own words. The truth is, the only person’s expectations I wasn’t meeting, were my own.
It took me a long time to figure out why. Why did I feel like I wasn’t enough and what could I do about it?
If I knew when I spoke that my thoughts and voice would be accepted, then I wouldn’t be afraid to speak. But the doubts in my mind tell me that I won’t be understood. That the complexities of my mind, and the moments when I may fumble over my words, are not a sign of my own humanity, but of my personal failings. Sometimes it feels like I will never measure up to the level it seems like everybody else is at.
Society tells people to wear a mask of perfection. There is pressure to speak and behave in a, let’s call it “well-mannered” way. But it’s not about being polite. It’s about being perfect. So perfect it’s almost robotic. Not real. Sometimes it’s dehumanizing. The truth is, the feeling I struggled with was not an indication of my own imperfections, but the flaws in the system that expect me to portray myself differently than who I am.
I’m not a machine. I’m a human being. I don’t know how to be anyone other than me. But if I don’t say the right things at the right moments, then I’ve failed to do my part in this society. I’ve failed to live up to expectations, I’ve failed to be good enough, professional enough, smart enough—I’ve just failed to be enough.
At least that’s what it feels like.
I’ve realized that it’s because I feel pressure to perform that I end up failing in the first place.
Another thing I’ve realized is this: I’m not actually failing. I’m simply being human.
Which brings me back to my initial point. I feel like I need to rehearse everything in my life before it happens. I’ve literally rehearsed actual conversations—point blank—in an effort to prepare myself for every scenario that comes my way. I’ve practiced flawlessly moving through day to day life, just to ensure I don’t look confused or mess up or be seen as anything other than perfect. Sometimes these plans work, and sometimes they don’t. Either way I grow and learn.
It’s as though I’ve forgotten that I’m not the only one who feels this way. We’re all human and we’re all struggling to be accepted for who we are while hiding behind the mask of who we’re expected to be.
I’ve grown to understand that I won’t always have the answers, but I will learn through each experience and use the knowledge I’ve gained in the future. I’m not going to be perceived as put together all the time, because I’m not—nobody is. Some people are just better at faking it.
As for me, I tend to overthink things, and become anxious more easily. Which doesn’t really help with the whole “pressure to be perfect” thing. There are many people who feel this way, too. This isn’t a bad thing, but in a fast-paced society, sometimes it can be.
I’m afraid to fail in a society that has distorted the idea of success.
I know I’m not the only who feels this way. So why is there still a pretense to act otherwise?
It’s ironic that the society which claims to be accepting of differences, is also built on a cruel foundation and an idea of success that I think a lot of people struggle to live up to. This idea is surely changing, but it’s going to take time.
Life is like a race, and we all move at a different pace, but in the end, I choose to believe we’re all going to reach the finish line.
I’ve accepted that sometimes I move slower, and I don’t always say what’s on my mind the most eloquently. I know that sometimes I’m an absolute airhead, and other times I wonder how I was blessed with such genius. I’m a piece of work and a work of art and I love myself for who I am because who I am is enough.
I don’t need to rehearse every moment because it doesn’t matter if I get it “right.”
It might take a little bit longer and look a little less pretty, but you know what, imperfections are awesome, and slow and steady wins the race.
Hi! My name is Rachel. I love to write. Write about life, love, and reflect on how the past builds the future. Mostly, I love to tell stories because I believe there is something about stories that brings the world closer together. You can check out some of my writing reflections here at Rachel Writes.