Striving for Perfection
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Striving for Perfection

  • Author(s): Stout, Emily
  • Advisor(s): Meyer, Ursula
  • et al.

I came to grad school secretly hoping I was perfect. I knew what had worked for me in undergrad, what I had been praised for, and I was planning on recreating that impeccably. My plan failed almost immediately. There was a specific instance in which I was working with a masked clown in movement class and I felt like what I was exploring in class wasn't really working. So, I tried bringing in something that in my past life, would have killed. Stephen saw my new proposal and said with a big smile, "No!" I was forced back into new territory, and I felt awful. But it was strange. Nothing bad happened to me. My classmates seemed to love me the same, and my failure didn't really seem to offend anybody but me and my ego. My desire for perfectionism will be my work for life. It comes from many things: being the eldest child, being a product of white supremacy, being a woman who's been socialized with a desire to please. But nothing about grad school has been perfect. The show of my dreams was canceled last spring, my solo show was shut down twice due to covid, and there are entire characters that I simply never found, even in production. But I was given permission to fail in grad school, and that has been the most precious gift of my training. My clown in movement class was so, so far from perfect, but she was so much more alive.

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