Impossible Perfection

On January 17th, a tragedy occurred on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania that has been receiving national attention. Freshman Madison Holleran committed suicide by jumping off of a parking garage just one hour after posting a serene picture of the Philadelphia lights on her Instagram. Her death shocked the country and has garnered a lot of press coverage, but, like most national story, it has come with its share of controversy. Madison was a talented track recruit from New Jersey, a 1600m State champion and also a star soccer recruit at multiple other schools. She had actually been set on attending Lehigh for soccer but at last minute decided to go to Penn for track. Additionally compelling was her dedication to school, and, what has sparked the most controversy, her stunning beauty. Thus, even though she saw a therapist weekly and took antidepressants, it is unlikely that anyone would have suspected Madison’s life to be anything less than perfect. Hence the controversy. Many people have criticized the publicity Madison has been receiving because they believe she has gotten special treatment because of her attractiveness. To the masses, this rings true; suicide, while not quite common, is not a wildly unique occurrence – Madison’s tragic death is, unfortunately, just one of many. It is understandable that among many more ‘expected’ suicide candidates (the typical media-portrayed depressed friendless person), news reporters would latch onto the outlier, the girl who seemingly had it all. “This just shows the immense pressure at high-caliber schools,” Natalie Malek, sister of Penn student Stephanie Malek says. “At Latin, our entire high school career is centered around getting into college, and we have the perception that life just becomes magically easier after that.” Natalie brings up a valid point about our expectations – though much of our worries revolve around college acceptances, there will never be a total absence of nerves. After speaking with many other Latin students regarding the incident, they all voiced their concern, but became even more mournful upon seeing a picture of Madison. This was not unexpected – to be totally frank, I had the same reaction. But what was the lesson here? That it’s sadder if a “prettier” girl dies? No. The lesson here is that nobody is immune to sadness, and no matter how “perfect” one’s life may seem, you can never assume that they are fully content. Madison suffered from high expectations and an unrealistic idea of success, and the first step to combat those same worries in the future, is to grasp the impossibility of perfection.   Rest in peace, Madison – you will be greatly missed.]]>