“You are my perfect grandson,” my grandmother says. It comes out as a whisper, like everything she’s said in the past few weeks. Gray hair finally starts to show, a delayed indication of her old age. It’s hard for me to hear her, even harder to think about her more visible mortality.
There are different versions of perfection. Mine entails that every action I take has a purpose. Every course I enroll in expands my mind and prepares me for more difficult curriculum. Every interaction I have with my family has to end well, with some civility or a sign of progress. Every word I write has to be perfect, a pillar of my passion for language.
I’m not saying that perfection is a bad thing, or that we shouldn’t strive for perfection. But there comes a point when it’s too much, a point I’ve written about before, but am now just accepting. It’s okay if a course I take turns out not to be as challenging as I had wished. It’s fine if I have a screwed up family with wounds that will take years to mend, if they ever heal at all. I’m still alive if some of my writing gets tossed in the trash, as long as I keep on creating.
Last week, someone at my school committed suicide. Just the act itself, even excluding the horrendous details, made me think. We all have problems. Some of our problems may be bigger than other people’s problems, but everyone has problems. And it’s okay to let go of perfection and just cry or play video games or sit down and stare at the ceiling – if that’s what it takes to give yourself a break from your problems. As long as you don’t stop fighting and striving for more, it’s more than okay.
When my grandmother greets me, she still asks whether or not my mom has hurt me lately. I’ve always say no, so she doesn’t have to worry about her perfect grandson. I’ve accepted the food she’s given me and returned her gifts with white lies.
But, maybe, the next time I see her, I’ll say yes. I’ll tell her the truth, and we’ll talk about it together.
It’s time I let go.