Perfectionism is a funny thing. We naturally crave it—more, better, faster—even though it’s unattainable and bad for our mental, physical, and emotional health.
THE PRESSURE TO BE PERFECT
Many of us have a really, really hard time coping with the intense pressure to excel at school, get the highest grades, do everything required to be accepted to the best colleges, and live up to everyone’s expectations. Not to mention the additional stress of social media: how perfect everyone looks and how effortless their lives seem.
Oh yeah, we’re also expected to look beyond ourselves to change the world, fix climate change, find cures for future pandemics, and fight for safer schools and racial justice. It’s a lot. Especially for high school students.
WHAT CAN WE DO?
Join our movement. We started Strength in Numbers to address perfectionism head-on by creating a safe space to talk about the impossible expectations our community puts on us and find healthy ways
to cope and thrive on our own terms.
Watch students discuss the pressures they face and what they’re doing about it.
Please remember: You are not alone.
Chronic anxiety can interfere with the ability to focus and learn causing school problems that can have lifelong impact, and can lead to serious mental health problems, depression, substance use, and even suicide. It can also lead to physical problems, such as headaches, chronic pain, digestive problems, and later heart disease.
Sometimes just knowing that the pressure to be perfect and excel in everything is unrealistic is all we need to begin
learning healthier ways to manage stress. Want to know if you are taking on too much?
The truth is sometimes we can’t. We honestly don’t know how to manage and process this type of stress in a healthy way at our age. Some of the things we turn to in order to handle our stress only make things worse and can have serious long-term consequences.
Self-medicating with drugs and alcohol
Use of prescription or illegal stimulants
Self-harm or cutting
Risk-taking and dangerous behavior
Addictions to any of the above
Any of these sound familiar? If so, you aren’t alone and it’s OK to ask for
help from friends, parents, counselors, school staff and other trusted adults. We have a whole page of resources to help you. If you aren’t sure where to start, we can point you in the right direction.
Today’s high school students suffer from depression and anxiety in record numbers. A survey done every year by Higher Education Research asks incoming college students if they feel overwhelmed by all they have to do. In 2016, 41% of students said “yes” compared with 28% in 2000 and 18% in 1985.
WHAT TO DO:
We need to talk to each other about this RIGHT NOW! Find a friend or talk to your parents about what you’re going through. If that’s too stressful, talk to a counselor or an adult you trust. Strong people get help.
The rate of hospital admissions for suicidal teenagers doubled over the past decade. No previous generation had to endure the pressure that we do.
WHAT TO DO:
This is not OK. If you or a friend are having suicidal thoughts, contact a parent, counselor, or trusted adult IMMEDIATELY.
Being perfect and being the very best at everything is unattainable without causing serious long-term harm to our physical, mental, and emotional health.
WHAT TO DO:
Stop when you feel overwhelmed. Do something calming: meditate, do yoga, take a walk, write in your journal, or listen to music. Find healthy ways to relax and recharge.