Wednesday, 23 September 2015


When I was 14, I made a stupid decision that plagued me for two bloody years. GCSE options. More specifically, opting to take GCSE art. I take colouring-in extremely seriously, but apart from that, I have precisely zero artistic ability. I can write a good essay, but I can't illustrate it. Luckily, that's not something you tend to have to do. Anyway, I took art and, long story short, it became the first thing I ever failed. Four years on, two years after I took that final art exam- I drew a lot of wobbly shoes over a background of wonky lines of Beautiful South lyrics- I then took my final A-Level Philosophy exam and, I kid you not, instead of even opening the question paper, I wrote a story about giraffes. Grade X achieved, booyah (and I still think of it as an achievement because before that I didn't even know X was a thing).

The art I failed due to a good helping of No Talent, but also thanks to a lot of Really Not Wanting To Have To Work Hard To Be Average. The philosophy I failed partly due to a bit of Laziness but mostly due to A Complete Fear Of Being Average. When it came to it, in both situations, I chose literal failure over being average.

It's a proper over-used eating disorder line, a bit of pseudo-therapy to declare, that we're all perfectionists who live in a black-and-white world. Unfortunately, like a lot of cliches, it has a basis in truth. I hatehatehate the idea of being average. Even at my lowest weight, which is a number that makes me cringe, I never felt small enough because as long as I was in this world at all, there was too much of me in this world. For a long time, recovery alluded me because I'd get to where I was starting to get better and I'd realise that I wasn't aceing recovery, but I wasn't aceing being disordered, either. Like, I'd not eaten enough to live, but I'd eaten too much to die. I couldn't bear the idea of muddling on through- I wanted to be the best and if I couldn't be that, I wanted to be the worst.

It's something that's stayed with me. I'm as proud of my X in philosophy as I was when I get firsts at uni. I make no secret of the fact I was dumped out of uni, even if it was because I was so ill, rather than just being the naughtiest girl in the school. As a kid, I tried so hard to fit in and invisibility was my desired superpower but somewhere along the way, when I tried to erase my history, I also erased that part of me. I'm a bit odd and I've had a complicated life, so fitting in never really worked. Aiming to be like everybody else whilst living a life nothing like anybody else's was a bit tricky. Shaking that desire is one of the few good things that have come from the last 10 years or so, because, y'know, I'd far rather be dressed in several clashing prints (today's outfit: purple paisley tunic; rust, mustard and black aztec-y patterned sleeveless cardigan; black and white headscarf; blue leggings) than jeans.

I've not managed to discard my inner perfectionist, but these days I'm less likely to destroy something that's not perfect and far more likely to try something new without the fear of not being good at it. If I eat a bit too little or a bit too much, I'm less likely to turn that into far too little or far too much. I'm not great, but I'm not bad. Things are ok. And, when compared to my history, that, in itself, is pretty good.

(Even if my dress sense has remained truly horrific).

1 comment:

  1. I have that same fear... I want to be perfect at things... I am not and I have to just be the best I can... It has held me back in the past. I don't know where it comes from, probably my crazy childhood which was no where near as bad as yours... I am glad you are becoming okay with not being perfect at things you really don't want to be perfect at...