The Problem with Perfectionism

I came across this article whilst sorting through some of my emails: http://www.spring.org.uk/2018/01/personality-trait-rising.php?omhide=true

This study found that young people are currently more concerned about being perfect than they were 30 years ago. Relating back to my previous post, I have noticed the immense amount of pressure that is put on teenagers to be ‘perfect’, at school, home and on social media. Having a perfectionist mindset causes worry and stress about meeting expectations of society. There was a time when I didn’t realise that I could choose not to be concerned about being perfect, that I could embrace my flaws and unconditionally accept myself for who I am. Now I know that, just like anyone else, I can choose to let go of unrealistic expectations and live my life with a content heart. You don’t need to be perfect to be happy. You can still live a good life with whatever set of strengths and weaknesses you have, as long as you’re committed to improving and growing in this journey of life. Once you stop caring about what people will think or say about you when you don’t meet their expectations, a huge weight will be lifted off your chest and your life will become a little less stressful.

What is perfect anyway? Who defines what perfection is? It’s important to understand that ‘perfection’ and our ideas of the ‘ideal woman/man’ are formed by society. That means that there is no such thing as the perfect person. When people in society create ideas of what perfection is, we tend to accept them and strive to meet those standards. If we think about it, most of the time, the expectations that are placed upon us are unrealistic. There is no way a person could be perfect in every single way. Everyone has flaws and weaknesses, even those that are portrayed to be flawless.

Pressuring ourselves or others to be perfect can damage our well-being (emotional, physical and even spiritual). Sometimes people go to such extremes that they end up compromising their health to reach the state of perfection. Trying to be someone you’re not or trying to be the person everyone wants you to be when you’re not truly happy will stop you from living your life the best way you can. You’ll always be afraid of disappointing someone or being the odd one out. But sometimes in life, you just have to take that risk if you’re looking to find your purpose.

Perhaps trying to be perfect has something to do with the way we see ourselves and our self esteem. It’s easy to just follow the crowd when everyone else agrees on particular expectations and ideas of what perfection is. It takes more effort and determination to reject the expectations that society places on us. Once you feel confident to express your own views, speak your mind, and live your life differently to the way others expect you to live, you may risk being criticised by society. Some people believe the risk isn’t worth it. But would you rather risk losing your voice? Wouldn’t it be more disappointing if you just followed the crowd and risked losing your identity? Isn’t it much more of a misfortune to risk losing your freedom as you live the life of a prisoner behind the cold, steel bars of society’s expectations?


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