The Ugly Truth: Lessons In Perfectionism

Upon viewing the rather uncensored Saltburn, as Rosamund Pike proclaimed her “complete and utter horror of ugliness,” I couldn’t help but reflect on my own musings of perfectionism. Though rooted in external aesthetics, Pike’s aversion served as a gateway into a broader, more insidious struggle — one that transcends the surface and subsists across various aspects of our lives. Beyond the glitz of Hollywood, this pervasive dilemma infiltrates the minutiae of daily routines, casts a shadow over academic pursuits and propels us into the relentless pursuit of a self-constructed ideal of success. As I grapple with my journey as a recovering perfectionist, Pike’s revelation resonates deeply. It speaks to the relentless pursuit of unattainable standards — chasing straight A’s, maintaining a buzzing social life, fitting into size two jeans and securing an impressive work position for my age.

Persona non Grata: Actually, You do Belong

Imposter syndrome has come to occupy an insidious space in academia, casting a shadow that conceals a genuine sense of belonging among students. It functions as a silent oppressor and gives rise to internal dialogues of self-doubt and criticism, often kept unspoken due to the fear that these doubts might be externalized, branding one as a sham. Standing among the vibrant tapestry of Cornell’s campus, I find myself amidst 15,000 students, each with unique backgrounds, experiences and stories to tell. Nonetheless, what connects our discrepancies is the common thread of our reputable and rightfully deserved education. 

So why the cognitive dissonance? It’s all too easy to dismiss my previous statement as deceit, to project it onto those who surround you, all while maintaining an incredulous stance that you — yes, you — warrant the recognition as someone who belongs.