We live in a world that encourages perfectionism through our competitive and comparative society. It can be hard to think past these pressures in everyday life, especially since social media has made it so easy to compare ourselves to others. Online, we’re only seeing a snapshot of the truth. What we’re not seeing is the pain, heartbreak, and everyday struggles that everyone deals with in life.
If you’ve ever felt emotional stress from the pressure to be perfect, you’re not alone. This is a personal struggle I’ve been dealing with, constantly feeling like I’m not doing enough to be successful. This is due to an outlook of comparing myself to other people and being stressed over feeling like I could be doing more. Even though I know I am already successful in many ways, it still feels like it’s not enough. I think many people feel this way, especially in my generation, where the act of comparison is so prominent.
I’ve started trying to understand that it’s okay to not be perfect. Understanding that everyone makes mistakes and learning to celebrate the small successes has become an important first step in overcoming perfectionism. When I find myself only focusing on results such as the final grade in a class or where I plan to be in five years, I remind myself that the journey is just as important. I try to remember that what I learned in the class is more important than the final grade, and my path over the next five years is more important than the destination. Sometimes, when I start to get overwhelmed and anxious about the end goal, I need to slow down and breathe.
An important step when trying to overcome perfectionism is accepting that there is always going to be someone better than us, but this doesn’t mean that our contribution to the world isn’t important. Society is constantly setting unrealistic standards on us in all different aspects, whether they’re beauty, education, or politically related. These stereotypes are set to be the best, so we compare ourselves to them. Although this is natural, we need to remember that there are billions of people in the world, and they’re all different. Only a very, very small percentage of people fit these expectations, and it’s not fair to hold the entire world to an unrealistic standard. This is what creates the problems our society has with anxiety, depression, and perfectionism. Remembering that we don’t have to be accepted by anyone but ourselves is so important in overcoming these issues.
Life is not a race. We can take control and choose not to let society’s ideals and people’s opinions affect our thoughts. We must do our best to cut out these negative influences and lower the pressure we put on ourselves. At the end of the day, we are responsible for empowering and loving ourselves.