Don’t Drink the Juice

by Zia Owens, UWCM
12th of July, 2022

A case against perfectionism

I was something of a pathological liar as a small child, throwing extra siblings and secret inheritances into the stories I told other people about myself. Was it for the drama, the spice, the intrigue? Either way, it isn’t surprising that when I’d dramatically throw myself on the ground after eating fruit and claim that my throat was swelling to monstrous proportions no one believed me. 


But the symptoms persisted, with only a little bit of exaggeration on my part. So unfortunately I can’t tell you what’s in the juice – whatever it is would probably trigger a cascade of bewildering symptoms in a manifestation of one of the strangest allergies I’ve ever heard of.


As a child, the realization that fruit was probably off-limits for me forever triggered a fascination with the stuff. I carefully filled wicker baskets with heaps of dusty blue plums from my grandpa’s trees, dried racks of apple slices in the freeze-dryer, and forced my little brother to eat whatever mysterious berries I scrounged up from bushes by the roadside. 


The romanticization of the unreachable should be considered a mass phenomenon. Social media platforms overflow with meticulously curated still shots uploaded by content creators pushing the tantalizing “that girl” aesthetic, carefully arranged green smoothies and matching athletic wear sets kicking the grime of everyday life under the proverbial fridge. 


Similarly, before coming to UWC I envisioned the plane flight as a threshold between perfection and everything – namely, my entire life – that had come before it. Now that I’d been accepted, I thought, everything should fall perfectly into place. I’d never question my decisions or feel uncertain about my future again. 


The movement’s online marketing expertly crafted the utopic cure-all that sucked us all in. Standing on the lid of the glass, watching the glittering liquid swirl beneath me, I was convinced I’d joined a community of 5am jogs and clear skin made manifest. After a year spent obsessively consuming every youtube vlog and college confidential forum I could find, I was ready to try the juice.


* * *


For the record, I’m not unhappy. I have no regrets about my decision to attend UWCM, and I’m more than ready to embrace the full untapped potential of DP2. 


And yet…


Sometimes I can’t help but feel that the school I attend and the school I applied to aren’t even on the same planet. Sometimes I feel like I’m 6 again, lying to myself while the juice I so desperately wanted to drink swells in my throat. I fought to maintain it for months, but eventually the idealized institution I built up in my head out of predictions and naivety slipped through my fingers. I was left with the realization that the worst thing you can do is cling to a delusion, stubbornly painting over reality with the messy brush strokes of fantasy.