I was an academic overachiever. I thoroughly and sincerely enjoyed Saturday trips to the library with my family. Summer School Honors Chemistry–challenge accepted. In the 7th grade, I got a perfect 4.0 GPA. All A’s, all 4 nine weeks. My father used to carry a copy of that report card in his wallet. So, early on, I knew what it was like to achieve and be celebrated. The problem was, I tied that to being loved. None of it was my family’s doing. They have always adored me, unconditionally, and have shown it with pride. I was young, school was all I had and I just didn’t know that I didn’t have to be perfect. This idea of perfection was reified by teachers, school professionals, and other students too–in both good and bad ways. Growing up in diverse Miami, I had an early understanding of social structures (racism, sexism, classism, the like), and how they affected me. I incurred what we know as the Black Woman Tax. I think now you have to work 7 times as hard, I gotta google it.
Either way, I was a perfectionist. Sometimes it took me to the promised land. Sometimes I crashed and burned. Every time, it drove me a little insane. Perfectionism was like a hangover. I’d vow, “Never again!” I had to take on less the next time, try not to please so many people the next time, not have to get every.single.part.of.my.job.perfectly.right the next time. And then the next time would come and…you can imagine how this has gone.
Fast-forward to getting my heart broken (it had to happen. I’m not perfect, after all) and having to learn that truly being loved has nothing to do with what or how much I do, but with who I am, and that truly loving a person means being willing to sacrifice almost everything for their wellbeing, while still being yourself. My relationship wasn’t working out–again. Whether I liked it or not, I had to embrace that failure. I had to risk embarrassment and loneliness. I had reject that perfectionism for the sake of my heart and sanity. And so it was.
My heart’s nowhere near perfect now. And I am, in fact, struggling with the things that I feared. What I am not struggling with; however, is whether I am worthy of love. I definitely answered that question many months ago. So, I’ve decided to drop the act. I don’t have to achieve or conquer another thing and I’m no longer trying to please everyone. I’m also not overcompensating anymore. Not for my past or for who I am.
Life constantly teaches us how to live it. We learn from our mistakes. We do better when we know better. Perfectionism has taken me places but not as far as honesty, passion and good old confidence. I’m embracing all the parts of me. All worthy of love.
– Sola Bamis. Actress. Writer. Perfection.
Beyond Perfection is our collaboration with Perfection Is A Myth, a platform that seeks to destroy the narrative that we must all look, dress and behave the same in order to be considered “perfect.” Read more by visiting