You're always beautiful

“Look at the moon – isn’t it beautiful?” My dad asked me as I cried into the plate of food in front of me, pushing around the pieces of sushi as if by rearranging them I could rearrange my life.

“Yeah,” I sniffled, wondering where he was going with this.

“But it’s only ever a full moon once a month,” he continued. “Most of the time, the moon is just a crescent or a half moon. It’s almost never a full moon, yet it’s always beautiful.”


It was several months ago when my dad said these words to me, but they were hard to understand amid the stress of the school year. Ever since I was little, one of my strongest qualities was always my imagination my will to dream. This year, though, my capacity to create grandeur visions seemed to be tragically coupled with the lack of ability to actually achieve them. I built tall ladders that were meant to take me to the sky, only to find that they were too fragile and that I could never climb them all the way to the top. I wanted to save the world, but I found that I couldn’t even save myself.

The kinder days of summer allowed me some time for reflection, though, and I think that I am just now starting to realize what my dad really meant: Self-worth is not — and must not — be measured against perfection.


This past year, Carnegie Mellon started its first ever women’s golf team. Our first tournament was played in forty degree weather, our second tournament was played against wind so strong that I thought I would go deaf, and our third tournament took place in the pouring rain. I was also pretty rusty from not having played competitively since high school, so, as I’m sure you’ve deduced by now, none of these tournaments went very well.

But I noticed something interesting about the three tournaments that we had: not once did my coach ever ask me what my score was, nor did she ever ask any of the other girls. It was always, “What parts of your game do you think we can work on in the future?” or “What was your best moment of the round?” I remember thinking that it was odd that she didn’t care what our scores were after all, this is the first time in the entire history of our university that Carnegie Mellon is being represented in women’s golf. Wasn’t our score a big deal? Didn’t she care about how we placed?

But then on the car ride home from the last tournament, my coach asked us an interesting question: “What do you define as success?”

I told her that success for me was breaking 90, and that since I was not able to do that, I did not consider the tournament to be a success. “Is that really what you think success is, though?” She pressed. I realized then that she was forcing me to re-evaluate the reason why I was there, the reason why I played 18 holes in the pouring rain, the reason why I missed class for a day. I realized that my goal wasn’t actually to get an amazing score. That’s not why I was there. I was there because I missed playing golf, because I missed being a student-athlete, because I missed meeting new people from different schools, because I missed being part of a team. And it turns out…these are all things that I achieved that day.


Sometimes you try so hard to reach a glorified dream that when things don’t turn out the way you imagined them to, you feel as if you have failed. But what I’m finally starting to realize — and what I’ll need to understand if I am to be happy — is that just because you didn’t achieve your original goal, it doesn’t mean that you didn’t accomplish other things along the way. A lot of other things, actually.

“Most of the time, the moon is just a crescent or a half moon. It’s almost never a full moon, yet it’s always beautiful.”


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