Life is rough for teens today, and particularly for girls. Kids believe that they have to get all As, have a full plate of extracurriculars -- along with a bustling social-media feed -- and look fabulous while they do it all. What’s more, they have to appear that they’re doing it without breaking a sweat, cultivating a kind of effortless perfectionism that insures that no one knows how tough it is for them to hold it all together. No wonder teens have record-high levels of depression and anxiety. While it might be possible to juggle all this for a short period of time, it’s an impossible task to continually pull it off.
I believe that this problem of effortless perfectionism plagues women as well: We often buy into the hype about all the different things we’re supposed to be, the multiple roles we should play. Mothers and career women. Committed volunteers and passionate partners. We are egged on by everyone else’s Facebook page -- all those glossy photos showing fabulous family outings and well-dressed kids. Not unlike our younger generation, we think we should do more and more and do it better and better.
An ugly side-effect of this dilemma is that -- in an age of hyper connection -- we ironically often feel more alone. Comparing our insides -- messy, untamed places -- with other people’s outsides is a losing proposition. We all have voices that tell us the things that we’re not good at, the ways that we fail. It doesn’t look that good when we’re comparing ourselves to these perfect-seeming acquaintances in our lives. And when we’re busy feeling inadequate, we feel too vulnerable to open up about our struggles. No wonder that life feels less connected and people often feel depressed.
Seems like today’s women could go a long way towards helping today’s girls, just by thoughtfully role-modeling what’s truly important. We have to be brave pioneers in tossing aside the idea of effortless perfectionism. Of course exposing our imperfections is a risk, but embracing our true selves -- flaws and all -- is a kind of liberation. The remedy? Looking inward and slowing down. Appreciating our strengths, instead ofover-focusing on our flaws. Ask yourself what really matters and turn your sights to that. What I know -- from the research, from observing it in my practice and by living it in my life -- is that meaningful human connection makes a difference. Connecting with friends, laughing with your kids, taking a walk with your partner. If you think it’s time to talk to a therapist about these issues, I would love to hear from you: Call at 510-708-4636 or send me a message.