By Maddie Sersic
Perfection. What does perfection actually mean? Is it just a blank canvas full of strokes from other people’s paintbrushes? Is perfection just a color that someone else has chosen for you? What happens when you decide to break out of the system and paint that canvas yourself; will it still be considered perfect?
The pressure for perfection in today’s times is atrocious. Did you know that psychologist Robert Leahy found, “the average high school student of today has the same level of anxiety as the average psychiatric patient of the early 1950’s?”
Anxiety disorder, depression, and substance abuse are becoming norms, and it’s all due to the pursuit of perfection. We keep trying to reach this misconceived notion and fail miserably again and again. This leads to a cycle of depression and anxiety that results in a less joyful life. My question is this: how can you ever fail at something that doesn’t really exist? It is a proven fact that perfection is humanly impossible to reach, yet we feel so much pressure to get as close to it as we can.
Students are at the highest risk for this disease. Getting into a “good” college is a whole new world. Students have to jump through hoops to prove their worth. They have to have excellent grades and a high GPA, be a community service super star, have great communication and leadership skills, playing a sport or instrument doesn’t hurt, and, last but not least, have to be passionate about something. After you show that you meet all of these requirements, you then have to explain why you are different from everyone else. You have to fight to be accepted and you have to fight to prove your worth.
The result of this is that sometimes students start to look at life as a college application. We start to ask ourselves, “Are my grades good enough to get accepted?” “Am I doing enough community service in the eyes of the colleges?” “Am I good enough?” This is where we go wrong. When we focus on getting good grades for someone else, we lose touch with consuming knowledge for ourselves. We begin to memorize instead of truly learn, and when the next school year comes we forget most of what was taught to us. When we help others, we now think about what we are getting out of it.
After years and years of trying to be accepted, from middle schools, from high schools, from colleges, from friends, from family, from romantic interests, and society in general, we start to really question if we are good enough. We have self-doubt, and sometimes this spirals as we throw ourselves into a hole that we can’t quite crawl out of.
What people don’t seem to understand is that if they just follow their passion, no matter how small or silly sounding it may seem, they will unconsciously put their best effort and time and love into it. They will practice over and over, and through this passion they will achieve success. Not only will you love what you do, but you will also take pride in what you do.
So here is my advice for all of you stressed out students who are just trying to make it through this semester: We all want love, we all want our friendships to work out, we all want good grades, and we all want to be accepted, so why don’t you be the first? Follow your passion and do whatever makes you happy. If you really want to make taffy for a living, do it, because I can promise you that you will be just as successful as the one who followed their passion to be a doctor. You just have to redefine your definition of perfection. Good luck.