Note: This essay was written to explain why achieving perfection may not always be beneficial. It shows that my love of cars was used as a means to push for success, but, interestingly, was detrimental to my academic career. I believe that it proves the point quite well, although slight refinement may help it a little.
The smell of fresh carpet, and the lemony chemicals of cleanliness were especially noticeable that summer afternoon of 2009. As we walked to the end of the wide hallway double file, and began the stairs, our teacher told us we were free. Benjamin, Ali and I ran down the stairs and made our way to the Book Fair. As soon as we had made it inside, there were rows, and rows of books, pens, pencils and everything else ‘academic’ you could think of. As we turned to face the stacks of Guinness Book of World Records 2010, our eyes turned to the corner of the cover. Price.
Immediately, I put my hand in my pocket, and pulled out a couple of neatly folded bank notes. Two 10’s - $20 in total. ‘That should be enough’ I thought to myself, as I walked down the aisle. I made it to the ‘Alex Rider’ series, and picked up the first book ‘Stormbreaker’. It was about 10 bucks, so I had half left. I turned the corner, and saw posters - maybe a yard long and two feet wide. I perused the selection, and found one that caught my eye.
The blue and black outline of the car was artfully crafted. This wasn’t some ordinary car; it was shaped like a rocket. The whole 180 inches of the Ferrari’s width were crafted with gentle swoops of intakes, curvatures, and beautiful design. It’s sharp, triangular headlights, when matched with its ultra-low profile gave it a true Batmobile style look. Its overall sleek profile can only be really described one way… Imagine a triangular prism that slowly widens up into a flat, then curves back into a flat end. You then take this triangular prism, and slowly carve the edges away, till the sides are curved down. Using a saw, you cut vents into the corners, and add lights. The front grill is cut into the bottom of the triangular prism, and the whole design is removed of edges. The doors are added, and intakes are cut into the sides. When you are done this, take it to a master engineer at Ferrari, and they’ll finish it for you. What are you left with? An astonishing exotic called the Ferrari 612 GTO.
The second I picked up this poster, I walked up to the cashier, heart pounding with excitement. I stopped for a minute, and picked up an eraser, a few pencils, and a notebook. After buying everything, I knew exactly what I was going to do when I went home - draw.
Ferrari. Bugatti. Lamborghini. Those three brands were my subjects. Exotics. Similar to the academic subjects of Linear Algebra, Chemistry, and Philosophy, these were the most sophisticated of their individual topics. I studied, and prepared for my subjects to a master’s degree. Every single chapter of Ferrari, Lamborghini, and Bugatti were practiced until I got the A. With a pencil in hand, I used some pictures on the net as a reference. I used to first copy each individual line, in essence tracing the pics. After the overall shape was done, I used to repeatedly ‘learn’ the curves until I got it perfect. I used this method to put in the light reflections, and interior details of the cars. I studied the specific model of my manufacturer (eg. Ferrari F40) before I moved on to another model. This led me to perfect certain models to a 1:1 reproduction drawing; if angles, curves, and designs were considered questions on a test, I’d study till I passed with flying colors.
This love of faultlessness, and achieving the best, was a double edged sword. Although it pushed me to do the best I could do, it wasn’t possible with all the classes I had. It was truly difficult to achieve perfection when you had multiple assignments for 5-6 classes, all due at the same time. Also, I had been trying to balance drawing cars with perfectly completing assignments, and I noticed that I was slightly falling behind in class. More nights were spent awake, and I began getting late to school, because I simply could not wake up on time. I used to be an ‘A’ student, but now, this was dropping. Oddly, I remember the fragrant aroma of the classroom, and school, as a memory of my seeming failure. Although I had been emotionally, and mentally there 100% of the time, my body couldn’t keep up with this strenuous cycle of perfection.
Although some might argue that, in order to succeed, you must work as hard as you possibly can, I disagree. In order to achieve success, you must work smartly. Which assignments are due first? Which assignments demand more effort? I realized I had to work in a time-based schedule, where as though assignments were completed in order of their due dates. After doing this for a while, I was beginning to catch up with my peers, and establish my former rank. I realized that the ‘top students’ were a group of teacher’s pets, and decided to fight the animals. In this strife, I worked to complete the assignment to the best of my ability, but in a time, and energy constraint. I worked in this manner until a month before school was out. My final report card was quite good, and higher then what I expected.