How did perfectionism become a success criterion?

So to answer the question of who raised us to want to be perfect? I believe we did it to ourselves. With help from the society expecting more from our generation

 

 

I’ve always done things a tad more perfect than needed. Cutting out an avocado in perfect slices to put on my toast, then adding a little cayenne, salt, pepper, and a squeeze of lemon on top (food taste better, when it looks good to the eye, you know). Tearing a whole page out of my notebook just to start all over, because I wrote an ugly letter. Making the bed before I get into it, so that it will be perfect when I go to sleep. Taking a photo down from Instagram, because it just didn’t sit right on my grid (or worse, it didn’t get the desired engagement, yikes).

 

Always making sure everyone was happy (an impossible task).

 

I’m not quite sure where this need for perfectionism came from. My whole life my parents have said to me, “you don’t have to be so perfect, Christina, have some fun.” And they’re right. I’m a perfectionist. Why? I’m not sure. I didn’t think I was striving to be perfect, yet I was trying to do everything to perfection. I often hear my friends telling me the same thing about themselves. As kids, they wanted to do good in school, be popular, go to the cool parties, get a boyfriend, and wear the right clothes (because we all know there’s a right and a wrong when it comes to outfits in elementary school, unless you wore a uniform. If so, lucky you).

 

Have we been raised to think we can be a perfect version of ourselves? And by whom? Our parents? Our selves? And that until we reach said perfection we’re simply not successful?

 

 

 

We live in a world where all success is shown to the outside world, and all failures are held tight. Social media makes us all more aware of each other’s success. Instagram is this online bubble of perfectionism: Skinny women effortlessly posing in a fashionable outfit set in a picturesque location (I mean, we even have ‘instagrammable’ in our vocabulary now), captions telling you success story after success story, first-class airplane selfies, exotic travel photos from a beach in the Maldives with the whitest sand and the bluest water or from a cliff in Thailand’s jungle with elephants taking a bath right next to you. And now also ‘stories’ showing you a run-down of everybody’s exciting everyday life.

It has become a place where “the influencers” earn an income, resulting in a lot of very cool, inspiring content, but also a feeling that manifest in me of being less successful, because my photos only gets 100 likes (tops), I only have 1,200 followers, and I’m not getting paid to post anything. I’m just normal. Boring.

 

So to answer the question of who raised us to want to be perfect? I believe we did it to ourselves. With help from the society expecting more from our generation. We had to get good grades, be social, get through our education in a timely fashion, and then get a job right after.

 

Is it possible we’re reliving our teens in our late twenties?

 

 

I guess it’s not only a question of being good or perfect at what you do, it’s also back to that annoying feeling I had as a kid trying to hang out with the popular clique. If I wasn’t a part of the popular group, was I good enough? If I’m not hitting thousands of followers and likes on my Instagram, am I even good enough? Is it possible we’re reliving our teens in our late twenties? Is life just one big roundabout circling back to the same issues over and over again?

 

For me, it probably is unless I push myself out of it. Change my mindset. But what is success then, if it isn’t being perfect at everything in life? I’ve given this a lot of thought the last few weeks and I have come to realize that success, for me, can be described with one word: happiness. Having many friends to hang out with isn’t success unless they add good vibes to my life and make me a better person. Living in New York City isn’t a success in itself unless it makes me happy. Earning a lot of money, and therefore being able to buy the exact life I desire, isn’t success unless I’m happy. And posting to Instagram and engaging with loads of people on there isn’t the equivalent to being successful unless that truly makes me happy.

 

So I’m going to work on my happiness, rather than focusing on being perfect at all times, because it’s simply not possible. We’re all just human, so let’s start sharing all of our failures along our successes. I think that would make all of us happier.

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