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Column: Learning not to be perfect

Back in my camp days, my camp friends could sort of see I was bit wound up, a bit of a perfectionist.

Several of them struggled with that too, but they were much better at dealing it with than I was. Their favorite bible verse was, "But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me," from 2 Corinthians 12:9.

As much as I wanted to let that verse work in my life, I didn't let go as much as I should have. I was a bit obsessed with schoolwork, running and being the perfect role model. I can't actually remember a time when I didn't have my homework done, or a test that I felt completely unprepared for.

The attitude I had was a dangerous one — running and school consumed my life. Sure, I had church, work and the occasional social break, but my life was focused around those two things. I was holding myself to stringent standards without realizing how far gone I was. I wanted to prove myself to be the perfect role model, but my happiness just wasn't there.

This year, I stopped holding myself to these standards--mainly because I didn't have to do much schoolwork and didn't have enough energy to think straight after school, let alone run.

Being in a new country leads to many failures, and I finally learned not to be as hard on myself. I trusted God that something good would come out of this.

Now, I wouldn't consider myself to be the perfect role model that I was before. I'm a different sort of person, though, and I wouldn't take back my growth if I had the chance. This new person, who trusts more on God than on her own strength, is so much more relaxed. I am so much happier, and don't constantly think of my grades and running.

I have learned how to be tolerant of others and, as I learned on a recent trip around Europe, I have a gift for being tolerant with strong personalities. I am the last person to judge now, because I can relate to the ways that people have messed up.

The person I was before definitely wasn't so relaxed and willing to go with the flow, or as approachable.

We all are going to fail many times, regardless of the standards we hold ourselves to. I know that I have messed up; however, God's grace is sufficient for us, and we can use it when we do fail. Through all the times I messed up, I learned something and discovered a lot about what I believe in. I have the Holy Spirit and, though I'm still on the journey of figuring out what I stand for, it is coming.

To anyone who feels like they can't let go of the worldly pressures, I promise that, if you pray for it and look for a way to let go, it will come.

The person that you become when you let go of the pressure you hold yourself to is a beautiful thing. It will come with time, prayer and maybe a lot of messing up. The other side is a beautiful one, and I don't know what would have become of me if I hadn't found it.

My own power was not enough, but God's power has not run out for me yet--and never will.