• Debate Magazine

A Plight in Perfection

By Anonymous

I wish I could fall asleep in this desk chair. Its cushions are lumpy, sure. It’d be more stable built out of sticks found in Albert Park, that can’t be argued. Still, it’d make for a luxurious bed if I could sneak my eyes closed. I have had too many nights, and then too many mornings, wide awake and enraptured by fluttering distractions and flashing lights. I slurp my coffee and crack my cans and try to survive a new day. I crave a moment of sleep, even if uncomfy and crushed.

Perhaps I can slink away in the lecture hall, hidden amongst the hard-studying. Give me a moment of shut-eye betweens the slides. I’d even take some peace behind the garbage can of a lecture hall alleyway. Words fade into their neighbours in an unending garbling monotone, a sea of the sound that the colour grey would make. I only want a moment of sleep. I’ll savour a goddamn power-nap if that’s all I can scrounge.

I took economics way back in my NCEA years, and came to learn an annoying fact. There were many similar words for many distinct things and thus the slightest error would drag you back to the beginning. Small mistakes in phrasing would cost you marks. You needed perfect definitions every time. I slowly stopped answering questions. I probably didn’t know the answers anyway. Anything I wrote could just be a few letters off and would be considered another failure in the books, so why try anymore? I felt as if everyone else knew more than me, and they were keen to judge me for it.

I came to law and it was sold to me as tough-asnails and competitive. High-brow intellectual shit every day of the week. I found it was all those things and more. A bad time in the best way it could come as. We, as humble students, were to be smart and tough and competitive all the same. Over these years, however, I have found an anchoring nervousness. It was like before in economics, only so much stronger now. I wanted to answer less and less with each workshop, sharing broad silences with my peers as the teacher would wait for a response.

I started to realise that if I was foolish enough to pipe up, and maybe even get it wrong, I would be utterly destroyed. My peers are an audience, a network and an executioner all at once. This was a place for the best of the best, and failure of any size would out myself as the worst. When I sit in that silence, I cannot help but feel I share that terror. When I look around at worried faces and scanning eyes, I feel that everyone is trying to find someone else to speak. I write this now to share my fears, so that perhaps some of you may relate. Maybe some of you share this perfectionist’s plight.