We all have a funny way of setting goals that we know are typically unrealistic. The new year is a perfect example of this. Every year, people vow to turn over a new leaf come January 1. But let’s be real, these leaves usually go untouched and are eventually forgotten. In a society where everyone strives for perfection, we often forget that nobody can really be perfect, and it’s taking a toll on our collective millennial mental health.
Putting on the pressure
A new study from the Psychological Bulletin found that society’s need to be perfect has been increasing over time, putting millennials at the height of the trend. The study was conducted from 1989 to 2016 on college students, and had each subject complete the Multidimensional Perfectionism Scale, which measures the general changes in one’s level of perfectionism over time. This particular MPS focused on three different types of perfectionism; self-oriented, socially prescribed and other-oriented.
The study ultimately found that more recent generations of college students scored higher in each form of perfectionism than any of the prior generations of students. On one hand, this probably seems like a good thing; students are aiming higher and striving to be better than their predecessors. But let’s delve into the parts that probably aren’t so great.
Aiming high, feeling low
I’m sure we can all imagine the immense pressure millennials feel nowadays. On top of striving to be a perfect student, many have to deal with student loan debt among other stressors such as finding or keeping a job and even keeping up with their social lives, both online and offline.
Social media has upped the ante in the past few years, making it easier for everyone to compare themselves to their peers which, in turn, makes us more competitive with one another. It’s a new virtual version of peer pressure.
Besides the pressures from social media, the need to be perfect puts a level of pressure on us millennials that can lead to numerous health problems. The desire to be perfect has been linked to mental health issues such as depression, anxiety and even suicidal thoughts.
While everyone should set high goals for themselves, these goals need to be realistic. Lack of financial knowledge also can add to the stress of perfectionism, and millennials are really learning as they go. It’s important to know yourself and instead of striving for perfection, strive to be the best you can be.
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