Perfect Isn’t Ideal

    I carefully stepped out of my mom’s Lexus and took a deep breath. In… and
    “Have a nice day at school, Amy!” My mom yelled out the window. Okay, I
thought, time to leave Amy behind. This was part of my daily routine. I left the
confinement of my family, left behind being the perfect daughter, and I became
Elia. My given name is Amelia Burbi, but almost no one takes the effort to speak it.
Amelia is who I really want to be. With my family I am Amy: part of my picture
perfect family, one of two beautiful Burbi daughters. But perfect isn’t ideal. I was
not particularly close to any of my family members, we were seen as flawless, but I
wasn’t sure that was true.
    So at school I became Elia, who is even less of myself, the pretty popular girl.
    I waved bye to my mother and rushed to the bathroom to meet my two best
friends: Ivy and Emma. Ivy and Emma had never met Amy, they only knew Elia. I
forced a smile onto my face and pushed through the door.

    “Elia!” Ivy and Emma screamed in perfect harmony. I reached my arms out to
embrace each of them, making sure to maintain my smile. Then in perfect sync we
walked over to the shiny mirrors of Killington High School, KHS for short. I plopped
my bag onto the counter that contained my sink. There were three sinks, three of
us. We took it as a sign of our everlasting friendship. I stared back at my reflection
and was immediately disgusted. My shiny blonde hair had been carefully curled
into many ringlets. My eyelids shimmered gold and my eyelashes were pitch black
and unnaturally long. My lips were coated in a thick shiny substance. All of my
imperfections were covered, all of me was covered. I wished I could have wiped it
all off.
    I quickly regained my composure and began to fix my checkered skirt and tank
top. Ivy and Emma both reached for their phones, I quickly imitated their actions. I
knew exactly the purpose of the phones: social media. I brought my manicured
finger to press the app and started to smush my lips into a round shape. The world
likes the weirdest things, I thought. We put our arms around each other and
rearranged our facial features to fit beauty standards. We chose the pictures that
we looked best in and posted them for the world to see.
    Next, it was time for class. I said goodbye to Ivy and Emma and headed for my
locker. I smiled again as I saw who was waiting for me, I still wasn’t sure if the
smile was that of Amy or Elia.
    “Alejandro,” I whispered as I stood on my tip toes and brought my lips to his.
Alejandro had been my boyfriend for about a year now. He was part of the group
of popular boys, our relationship made sense. Over time I had grown to like him, to
me, Alejandro wasn’t part of Elia or Amy’s lives, he was Amelia’s.
“Ready for math class?” he asked.
    Yay! I thought, but I did not reveal my love for math, I slouched down and
reluctantly smiled. I grabbed my things from my locker, grabbed Alejandro’s hand
and started off to Mr. Jankens’s class. Almost the whole school turned to look at
us, attempted to say hi. I smiled at all of them, but all I really wanted to do was
become one of them, one of the normals. I wanted the simple life that allowed me
to be my true self, to be Amelia. The social standards, the hierarchy, the world is
based on, that I was a part of, needed to be destroyed, starting with my
highschool. They were restricting me from being who I truly wanted to.
    About halfway through math class I decided today was the day to begin the
    Almost every day for the months before I had been adding to my grand plan. By
now it was developed enough, and ready to put into action. It didn’t have to be
perfect, I knew that the people at KHS were unsuspecting enough to go along with
it. The school year had about one month left, I had calculated that this plan would
take around the same amount of time. Even better, I could request to make a
speech at the end of the year. Ivy, Emma, Alejandro, and I were big parts of this
plan, the only difference between us was that they did not know their involvement.
The last page of my notebook titled “PLAN” read:
    STEP 1: Expose Ivy and Emma. Break them up with their boyfriends (Jacob
and Jack) and post the many videos of them bullying our classmates that had
been sitting in my camera roll for much too long.
It wasn’t that I didn’t like Ivy and Emma, but they were the only people in the
school that I could use to execute my plan. On many occasions I had seen Ivy and
Emma bully our peers. I didn’t want everyone at KHS to end up like me, hiding
themselves. I also knew that Ivy and Emma’s relationships were just for show, so I
didn’t feel bad about breaking them up. My expectations would be completely
exceeded if Ivy and Emma would exchange boyfriends.
    STEP 2: Sit with many people at lunch, talk to everyone, and live without
beauty standards.
By now the whole school should be in chaos, feeding off all the drama. Maybe Ivy
and Emma would have a big fight in school, too. If I could get Alejandro in on it,
everything would work very smoothly.
    STEP 3: Make my speech at the end of the year.
This speech had been written for a while now, but I had always been too nervous
to present it, until now. This three step plan had been completed to fulfill my every
need. And as they always say: good things come in threes! It was time to put the
first step into action. I already understood what we were learning, so I silently took
out my phone and hid it in the desk.
    I pressed on Ivy’s name first and began to type:
    “Ivy! I’m just making sure you heard what Jack said...”
    “What?! What did he say?!” Ivy responded almost immediately.
    “You really want to know?” I needed her to know that this was extreme.
    “He said that he would rather be dating Emma. I’m so sorry, Ivy.”
    It took awhile for her to respond, but once she finally did, all she said was, “Oh.”
    I didn’t feel bad about what I did, I knew that the end result would outweigh
anything throughout the plan.
    Next, it was time to do the same with Emma, but with Jacob instead of Jack.
For extra precaution I texted Jacob and Jack individually and told of the many
times that the opposite’s girlfriend had talked about them, and how much they
longed to date them. They didn’t need to know that it was all part of my grand
    For the video exposure I chose a short recording of the two girls making fun of
Betty. Betty was that one girl in the school who everyone made fun of. She had
been added to my list of friends to make once this plan was executed. I posted this
incriminating video to a public account I had made solely for this purpose. I also
sent the video to a couple of the gossips, just to make sure it got around.
    By the next week both the once happy couples had broken up, the whole
school was talking about the video. Betty, who once had no friends, was now part
of the gossip, which resulted in many new friends. The week after, Ivy and Emma
had successfully exchanged boyfriends, and gotten into a large and loud fight in
the cafeteria. The whole school was in chaos, they lived for the drama. I had
successfully accomplished step one, but I wasn’t sure if I could complete step two
alone. I decided now was the time to recruit Alejandro.
    That day I went over to his house.
    “Alejandro, I have something to ask you.”
    “Shoot,” he replied.
     I calmly pulled out my battered notebook and placed it onto his desk. My heart
was pounding out of my chest, what if he reveals my plan to the whole school?, I
thought. I quickly dismissed the idea and continued.
    “I want to cancel the popularity contest at school,” I said it quickly so I wouldn’t
have to even think about it. I continued to explain my plan, and introduced the
three steps that I thought guaranteed success. By the end of my explanation,
Alejandro sported a very wide smile. He reached under his bed and pulled out a
similarly beaten up notebook. On the first page “PLAN” was scribbled in a dark
blood red color. I snatched the notebook from his grasp, I was so intrigued, I
needed to see its contents. Towards the end of the book Alejandro had written a
plan, very similar to mine. It was clear he had not been working on it for as long as
I had. His plan was not as well developed. He had written that he would somehow
cause chaos, and he too had planned a speech for his last step. I grinned as I
placed the notebook on the desk, right next to mine.
    “So, when do we start step two Elia?” he asked. I was positive he had noticed
my rain of chaos from the past days.
    “Tomorrow,” I replied, my smile had grown even bigger now. “And one more
thing,” I added, “you can call me Amelia.” He smirked as I left with a little spring in
my step.
    My heart was still pounding with anticipation when I got home. I quickly got
ready for bed. I knew I would need the rest for the next day.
    When I woke up the next day I was completely out of sorts. For years I had
begun my day according to what people expected of Amy and Elia, but today it
was Amelia’s turn. I pulled on a long yellow dress covered in blue flowers and a
gray cardigan. I brushed out my hair, but left it in its natural wavy state. I looked at
myself in the mirror, “Hi Amelia,” I whispered. I left my face bare except for some
lip balm, for the first time since I could remember my face was in its natural form
and did not glow with beauty. I slipped my bag onto my shoulder and headed
downstairs for breakfast.
    “Good morning Amy,” both my mother and sister, Rosemary, said.
    “You can call me Amelia now.” They both looked shocked, but after a quick
look at my appearance, they realized something had changed. I grinned quickly at
Rosemary while grabbing a waffle from the toaster, and noticed something I hadn’t
before. Rosemary never wore makeup, never dressed or acted according to what
other people expected. At that moment I realized that all this time Rosemary had
been my true role model.
    At home, my family and I did not have many interactions. We would sit down for
dinner together every night, have normal family discussions, but there was always
a few awkward pauses. From the outside we seemed like a happy loving family,
and I guess that was true. We were happy and loving, but there was a hint of
something else behind it. I guess my family dynamic was a big part of why I hid
    When I arrived at school Alejandro was already waiting for me. He was dressed
in long jeans and a sweatshirt. His hair framed his head in a floppy mess. He was
the most handsome I had ever seen him.
    “Hello my beautiful Amelia,” he whispered. I could not keep my joy concealed, a
wide smile spread across my bare face. I grabbed his hand and entered the
school. Not a hint of nervousness existed in my being. That is until I entered the
    Jacob and Jack were throwing punches while Ivy and Emma stood by crying,
consoled by the others. I knew it was just for show. The whole school was
cheering the fight on. The results of step one had exceeded my expectations. My
speech would be in a week.
    Once teachers broke up the fight, all eyes turned to Alejandro and I. They
searched our faces for reasons, signs of mania. It was the perfect reaction.
Alejandro and I smiled, we didn’t have to exchange words to know exactly what the
other meant.
    This went on for the next few days. We ate lunch at different tables daily and
greeted everyone we saw. We dressed and acted as we wanted, and ignored the
dirty, confused looks. We were Amelia and Alejandro, the most normal and happy
couple on the planet. We walked through the halls normally as everyone else
whispered or fought, they all lived for the drama.
    Tomorrow would be the last day of school, and that meant that it would be time
for my speech. The edges of the paper that contained the words were wrinkled
and the ink started to splotch after many months of being read over and over. I
was ready.
    “Next up Amelia will be presenting a speech,” the principal spoke the words
into a pitch black microphone, his words echoed inside my head. I had been
waiting to hear them for so long that they almost startled me. Alejandro brought me
back to reality, took my hand, and guided my eyes to the podium towards the front
of the gym. Although Alejandro had been a big part of putting this plan into action,
he knew that it should be me to present the speech.
    I pulled the paper from my bag and began:
    “Hello, my name is Amelia Burbi. Today I would like to discuss the social
dynamic at our school. A few weeks ago I started an experiment on all of the
students. I created so much drama that I knew not one of you could resist getting
sucked in. I also knew just the right people to execute this experiment: it had to be
the popular girls, the girls I had at one point called my best friends. You would not
have taken notice if it had been anyone else, but that is only because you do not
have a window into anyone else’s lives, and their dramas. I was Elia at this school,
I hid my true self because I thought that you would enjoy a different version better.
I believed that you would like me better, but I ended up liking myself less. I was
pressured to fit into this dynamic, so much so that I had to develop a plan to get
out of it. So now I encourage you to stop ranking yourself among the people at this
school and to show us who you truly are.”
    As I went on I saw the faces of the people I once looked down upon light up.
They nodded and smiled, I think I even caught a quick grin from Ivy. I told them of
my plan, how I wouldn’t have been able to do it without Alejandro. I slipped in a
quick apology for anyone who I hurt along the way, cautiously making eye contact
with Ivy and Emma. I convinced my peers that our ways needed to change, and
now. And I introduced my true self, introduced Amelia.
    I stepped off the stage. I had no idea what to expect, but what happened was
nowhere near expected. Everyone just kind of sat there. Most people wore wide
eyes, some even gave me dirty looks. I understood their frustration, I had played
them all. I only hoped that they would come around and realize that my only
intention was to benefit them.

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