This morning, as I listened to this report about Generation Perfect on Good Morning America, I was struck by two things. First, how much this sounded like what I’ve been hearing from my students in the last few years: stress and pressure to get the best grades, be gorgeous at all times and keep up an active, full social life while making it look effortless. Second, how much what these girls are saying sounds like Macy at the beginning of The Truth About Forever: I mean, that second line about perfection or don’t bother reads almost verbatim. Yikes!
I’m glad the book is relevant. But this is a disturbing trend, and in all honesty I don’t think it’s restricted just to teens. It seems to me like we’ve become a perfection-obsessed CULTURE: if something isn’t exactly right, you need to change it, now. All the makeover shows, and weight-loss cover stories about already skinny celebs, plus shows on MTV that showcase people who have EVERYTHING and yet are still not happy, wanting more….I don’t know. It’s kind of disturbing, isn’t it? Truth be told, I’m the first to admit that I am a total Type A personality: I push myself really hard, and when I do meet a goal I have a bad habit of, instead of being satisfied, pushing the bar higher and then immediately setting out to meet it. Which is really no way to live, so I’ve been trying to ease back, make some positive changes. But then again, I’m a little bit older. As a teenager, I was much more predisposed, I think, to wanting to please people and meet EVERYONE’s expectations: my parents, my teachers, my friends, and on and on. The end result is that you spread yourself so thin you’re invisible, and that’s not good.
At the same time, I’m not sure how to tell people how to stop this drive for perfection, especially since I’m still battling it myself. All I can say for sure—at 35—is that time goes faster than you think. There’s a lot of time I spent obsessing and stressing that I wish I could have back now, and not just so I could use it to go after some other Big Goal, but for something else. Like spending time with my family, or hanging out with my friends, or just sitting on the back steps watching my dogs roll around in the yard. For a long time I thought time like that was wasted. Now, I’m not so sure. At all.
(Oh, man. I’m begining to think this time off is making me WAY too introspective. Excuse the deepness. Here’s a cure: The O.C premiere. Tonight. Finally. YES! I feel better now.)