I’m trying to be better, but here I am, trying to be perfect in the most extravagant sense

A+candid+shot+of+me+hugging+Sofias+dog%2C+Blue%2C+before+doing+hours+of+homework.

Sofia Hargis-Acevedo

A candid shot of me hugging Sofia’s dog, Blue, before doing hours of homework.

Back in my third-grade math class, when we were learning about comparison symbols, my teacher said the open end faces the bigger number because we always want more of whatever we have. In her demonstration, she drew teeth on the symbols to represent an alligator’s mouth, and on our work and tests, she had us draw the teeth and other details to win a piece of candy.

Her “alligators” helped me remember which way the symbol faces, and to this day, I still draw the teeth on my symbols; sometimes, I even add the two little dots above it for eyes. It’s childish, yet it’s the only way I can remember which direction the symbol faces; we always want more of what we have. 

Now, as a very lost tenth grader who’s still not good at math, I want more of what I have, excluding geometry homework. In an extension of that, I want to be more—I want to be better, but I can’t seem to comprehend that I won’t always see the teeth of the not-so-intimidating alligator with a poorly drawn bow on top of its head. 

I can’t wait until the day that I can say that my writing abilities are greater than those of my former self.

I’m a naïve moth drawn to a flame; I’m addicted to the passionately burning light that isn’t kept aflame because of oxygen, but because of praise and subtle reassurance. I can tell myself that my writing is worthy enough to be published.

I hope, I hope, and I hope that my writing is worthy enough to be published to The Central Trend, and I hope, I hope, and I hope that I’m talented or, for lack of a better term, good enough to have a staff profile with my name on it. Hope is all that I have left, even when I sit on my bathroom floor for hours at a time trying to fill a blank document with the same 26 letters, just rearranged, to enrich my peers. 

The hours of typing and endlessly hoping get me nowhere near the praise and reassurance that I crave in the most toxic sense of the term. ”

And when that brutally blank document is finally filled with hundreds of words, I can leave my bathroom and head to my bedroom where I reread the words that I have typed. I hope I did something in the moment, but now, all of these words I’ve known forever seem foreign, like I’ve typed them in a different language. Now, the hundreds of words I had typed on the document are meaningless—they’re gibberish and the opposite of what I’m trying to achieve.

As my pointer finger clicks my trackpad and the middle finger glides over it, my “words” are highlighted blue before the document becomes brutally blank once more. The hours of typing and endlessly hoping get me nowhere near the praise and reassurance that I crave in the most toxic sense of the term. 

Trying to be someone I’m not is making me trip over my feet and fall down the stairs that lead me to the truest form of a writer I can be. Here I am, on step one making my way up the stairs yet again. With each futile attempt to skip stairs and be somebody I’m not quite yet, I reach my inevitable fate and fall back down. 

I fall back down again, again, and again. I’ve realized I need to slow down and appreciate that I’m not yet who I want to be, but again, I’m impatiently waiting until the day where I can say, with confidence and pride, that my writing abilities are greater than those of my former self.