Insight: I am my own worst enemy

'My internal monologue consists of a battle between me and the perfection I demand from myself'

"It’s been a long week," a phrase that is slowly becoming a staple in my vocabulary.

It's at this part of the semester where I start to slip. I neglect a discussion post or two, and I’m no less than three lectures behind. 

The second set of midterms roll around and the confident stride I started out with is long gone.

And it doesn’t help when there is a voice in my head telling me the only reason I am struggling is because I am simply not good enough to succeed.

It doesn’t matter what the situation is when I carry this gently nagging feeling that tells me I am not quite right for the job.

The internet has identified this as a form of either "gifted kid burnout," impostor syndrome or an inferiority complex.

Personally, I see it as a by-product of my perfectionism. 

My internal monologue consists of a battle between me and the perfection I demand from myself. So when I am unable to perform to my sometimes unreasonably high standards, I see it as a mark against myself. 

The only thing left for me to do is to either drown or fight against the current that is taking me farther and farther away from the shore.

When I look around and see others in the same position as me handling the same workload and responsibilities in a way that appears to be much more productive and healthy, I start to consider if the glaring difference is that I am just not as good as everyone else around me.

At the end of my first semester in college, I was an A- away from a perfect GPA. For nearly two weeks after, the only thing I felt was frustration and disappointment; so naturally, I spiraled. 

I was so close to starting off with a perfect record, but that little dent in myASU was a reminder of how I couldn't live up to the potential I had set for myself. 

After all, if I couldn't achieve something that simple, why should I even try at all.

This feeling has followed me around since I was old enough to realize my performance is reflective of my worth as an individual. 

I’m well aware that this isn’t — and shouldn’t — be the case at all, but the second I began to equate self-worth with performance, my relationship with myself became significantly more toxic.

And I am clearly not alone. In what experts have coined the "Great Resignation," workers across the country quit their jobs in favor of pursuing something they are more passionate about.

Associating self-worth with one's marketable value and corporate achievement isn't sustainable, and millions of people have decided to leave their jobs because of it. In August alone about 3% of the entire workforce quit their jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.


I am slowly working to separate myself from this self-imposed pressure, but a part of me isn’t quite ready to break this habit. 

It has followed me around for as long as I can remember. As demoralizing as it can be at times, I have no clue where I would be without it.

Holding myself to higher standards has encouraged me to put out my best work and it makes me wonder if I would feel as fulfilled if I couldn't compare it with those low moments.

Recently, I’ve been taking the time to reflect and figure out my priorities. Much of it consists of realizing I need to find a balance in my life. 

Part of this is also learning to be more patient with myself. Would I be this harsh if I expected the same things out of someone else?

I’ve been working on redefining my version of productivity, and seeing that is not necessarily all the assignments, studying or articles I have completed that day. Sometimes just getting out of bed is more than enough.

The bit of wisdom I’ve found to cope is knowing I am a work in progress. I'm accepting myself where I am, keeping in mind I still have a long way to go.


Reach the reporter at sbalas44@asu.edu and follow @sophiabala1101 on Twitter.

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