The Expectation of Perfection


You are my sunshine, my only sunshine, you make me happy, when skies are grey, you’ll never know just, how much I love you, please don’t take my sunshine away.


Goodnight Sophia, sweet dreams, I love you.

Five year old me fell asleep to a raspy sweet song and the warm hug of safety.  

My greatest fears were losing my blankie or falling out of my big-girl-bed (again).

My home with books and barbie dolls was my whole world and it was enough.


10 year old me fell asleep to a symphony of singing and screaming about lost tooth brushes and children’s stories.

My greatest fears were losing my blankie or losing my mom in the supermarket.

My home and school with books and barbie dolls and ballet shoes was my whole world and it was enough.


15 year old me fell asleep to the synchronized (breathing) of my family.  

My greatest fears had multiplied like lice and were displaying the same knack for being a pain to get rid of.

My home and school and studio with books and barbie dolls and ballet shoes and boys was my whole world and it was not enough.  


Having life handed to you on a silver platter is just dandy until you taste the dish.


I am afraid of many things– none of which I can touch.  Like trying to stroke your reflection but hitting the mirror every time.

It is difficult to face a fear that you can’t see, difficult to run from something that can surround you, difficult to conquer something that never dies.


Put me on a roof and watch me dance, give me a snake and we will become friends,

I will speak to a crowded room with legs that do not shake

I will stand in the dark to see the stars

My heart does not quicken when the plane lifts off

My breath stays steady when I see a stethoscope

Give me a fear I can touch and I will face it with a kiss

But show me a fear I can only feel

and I will feel it

in my bones.


The problem with always succeeding is that perfection becomes the expectation.

At times I envy people who are thought of as failures because a bar already set at rock bottom is easier to climb over than one set at the stars.


Yes, I may have the ambition and the optimism and the raw talent

but on days when those attributes are butterfly wings against a glass ceiling of pressure

I am afraid.


Afraid that every good deed I do is just so someone will think higher of me.

Afraid that I have no real interests and that the clubs are just for college.

Afraid that I’m really not as smart as everyone thinks.

Afraid that my life will become a monochromatic stream of work 9 to 5.

Afraid that I will wait to live until I reach the top of the ladder.




But look at me.  I am still climbing.  My fears may be weights but they have made me fight for every gain.  That glass ceiling is heavy and I am no Atlas but moving rung by rung with butterfly wings is better than not at all.  


17 year old me falls asleep to the sound of the stars twinkling like bells through the glass ceiling and the steady throb of a heart beating against its burden.

My greatest fears surround me like a fog that no breath can blow away.

My home and school and studio and sky with expectation and obligation and endless ladders is my whole world, and it is not enough.


So I climb.

This poem is about: 
My family
Poetry Terms Demonstrated: 


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