I am dancing within my winds of perfection


Maryann Warren

My brother’s friend, Cam, and I dancing and singing outside my Nana Ingrid and PopPop Kirby’s beach house.

When I was still small enough to not worry about the length of my legs or the appearance of my hair, there was nothing I loved more than singing and dancing.

Whether it be the feeling of my tiny feet prancing on wooden docks or the way I dove into the clutches of the wind with each note, something about theatrics was always appealing, no matter the time or place. There was no definition in my mind of what dance was supposed to be—no presumption as to what my voice sounded like when I sang. It was just fun, plain, and simple. 

And when the people around me decided to dance too, I was suddenly introduced to my then-version of perfection. We would gallivant and parade, traipsing from one end of the dock to the other and giggling as we did so. I cannot remember what we looked like, the only things there to remind me being the occasional photos taken by my mother, but I imagine we were gracefully elegant as we bounced and shouted. 

Despite the pockets of perfection found within my past, the hunt for what I now identify as faultless has become exhausting. I lay awake in front of illuminated computer screens, five out of my ten fingers painted in holographic, Prussian blue. Three unfinished and half flattened La Croixs sit dully fizzing on my wooden window sill, seven discordantly stuffed Squishmallows acting as my only companions. Every other bulb in my Christmas lights is out, and I cannot seem to discover the origin of this issue.

I’ve reached the breaking point on the line of perfection I have been balancing on for too long.”

Nearly everything is the polar opposite of the dictionary definition of perfection, and it’s even further away from what my childhood self thought she’d become. And the list goes on. It accounts for all the little things about myself—physically or environmentally—that I would change if I could. It lays within the piles of laundry on my floor and the length of my legs. It hides behind the wilted flowers in my Goodwill vase and fly-aways that protrude ruthlessly from my bangs—the same bangs I regret getting with each day that passes. 

I’ve reached the breaking point on the line of perfection I have been balancing on for too long. In a desperate attempt to extend its life, I’ve realized maybe there is a different definition of the word I have been missing all along.

My older sister Charlotte is a reading interventionist. During the day, she helps students get back on track and succeed within subjects they often flounder in, and at night, she goes home to crafting projects and Sims 3 games. And even though there must be a thousand worries spinning around in her head, I’d say that she can find solace within well-painted dollhouse walls and bright, eager minds. Those things promise her perfection. 

I’ve been tirelessly staring through a kaleidoscope, and certain triangles are moving in ways I do not remember. I find a certain beauty in the way my wilting flowers slump solemnly over the edge of my vase, and the way my unevenly painted nails patter away at my keyboard brings me a gentle sort of joy. 

No dictionary page holds such a definition, and I’ve begun to realize that every person has their own meaning to the word “perfect.” And though this sudden recognition does nothing for the insecurities that still fester within me, it slightly eases my need to constantly better myself.

Because that is what I’ve been doing: trying to be better than the version of myself that only exists within. She is intangible, yet feels so real, and it has taken me nearly 17 years to realize that she isn’t perfect either, no matter how jovial and resonant she can be. She is redefining with each day that passes and reshaping the clay that has molded her life, and so am I.

I always have been, it just took forever for me to recognize that that is okay.