Kayla DeLotte

Teenagers have become stressed and depressed due to the concept of perfection.

Kayla DeLotte, Reporter

Society has create the idea of perfection, which has been promoted especially on social media and in schools. It is seen as a goal by nearly everyone, yet regardless of how hard one tries, it can never be attained. The pressure to be as perfect as possible has profound effects on teenagers, especially in regards to mental health.

The idea of striving for perfection has been linked with depression, anxiety, and eating disorders through several psychological studies. There has also been evidence that has tied the concept of striving for perfection to Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and higher levels of stress.

Perfectionism seen in teenagers typically stems from one of two places: themselves or the people around them. Others who influence them may include teachers, administrators, or even peers. Regardless of the source, the students themselves are affected the same.

Outside of school, the most widespread platform that promotes perfection is social media. The perfect body, social life, and relationship are taken as inspiration as to what a teenager believes his or her end goal should be. Striving to attain this image leads to the issues previously discussed.

People most commonly associate perfectionism with the idea of wanting to excel in a given area or wanting to be the best in something, which may include activities like school or sports. It can be beneficial when a teenager sets their sights on a goal and makes a plan to achieve that goal, but trying to achieve perfection is where a teenager’s mindset can take a negative turn.

Psychologist Paul Hewitt gave a personal example he had seen in a patient. The patient was depressed and felt the need to get an A in a course he was taking at school. Upon receiving the A, his depression worsened due to his belief that he was unintelligent for having to work so hard for his grade.

This example clearly demonstrates the pressure that many perfectionists put on themselves. Despite achieving his or her goals, his feeling of failure lead to worsening depression and increasing suicidal thoughts.

Schools have taught students from early childhood those with the most achievements will have the most opportunities. These achievements typically correlate with perfect grades and high test scores. Since parents want their children to be the best, they team up with the school to push for the highest grades possible. On top of having teachers and parents on their back, other students can act as pressures as well because of the competition they pose.

“School is really competitive nowadays, so trying to keep up with students who might be better at a subject gets really stressful,” says junior Haleigh Bargamian. “Parents don’t always have the money to put their kids through college, so we have to rely on having perfect grades and these great extracurricular activities to get us into college.”

Students need to reflect on the way they view life and consider how much perfection truly matters. Teaching students that their best is good enough will be crucial as to the way they live their lives after high school.

“In twenty years from now, everyone will look back to high school and wonder why they viewed themselves so negatively and why they were so hard on themselves,” says Mrs. Patti Boggs.

Perfection can’t and won’t be attained. Every person should do what makes them happy and what they feel gives them the best life, as opposed to following the ideas that society has put forth. Teenagers should be taught the clear difference between wanting to excel versus wanting to perfect their lives.