A fine line exists between motivation and obsession. Practice doesn't make perfect and perfect performances don't make dreams real. Somewhere in the middle, I work to come to terms with my imperfections.
For 12 years, I have figure skated at least two hours daily. From the first stroke I took, this sport left a mark on me. When I trained for my first state competition, I worked under the impression that I had to be perfect-no mistakes, no wobbles. Nothing. Every practice session, I ran through my program twice. I went through my jumps three times to develop consistency. My confidence level rose. I was certain that I would skate well at the competition.
I took to the ice. I missed jump after jump and tripped on connecting steps. I was no longer the competitor I had been in those weeks of training. For the next few days I tried figuring out why perfect practices didn't lead to a perfect program. I remember my coach saying, "Coming across a perfect skater is like finding a needle in a haystack. You are only human."
I battle with my need for perfection during practice and at competitions. There are moments where I am disappointed with myself or where I want to give up. However, I cannot abandon my longing for the smooth sheet of ice that awaits me everyday. I push through those moments and work towards accepting my imperfections.
Not even perfect performances lead to a perfect dream. My dream was becoming first chair in band when I first started playing. I received my audition etude along with a tedious list of scales for chair placements in the fall. Every day I practiced those along with other musical works. I walked into the band director's office with confidence and started playing the etude and scales freely and elegantly, with no hint of error. I pictured my name at the top of the list when the results came out. Everything stopped. My name wasn't first, or second. It was third. I was speechless, outraged.
I had flute lessons that day and so I briefed my flute teacher on what happened. She said, "You may be third chair, but play third chair like you are the first chair." I hadn't view the situation from that point of view. My mindset was either I am first chair or I'm not. My flute teacher's perspective helped me understand that imperfection doesn't mean failure and that being third chair shouldn't dampen my spirits of being selected for honor bands.
There is no "cure" for my desire for perfection. There is nothing that can change my pursuit of this. I'm still dealing with the need to be perfect, though I am in no hurry. Learning the ways of imperfection takes years, but one day, I will embrace it.
Any feedback would be appreciated. Thank you!