As a teenager and student, you may frequently find yourself dealing with the ever-growing struggle of living up to expectations. These may be the expectations of others or more commonly, the expectations you impose on yourself. The stressors of navigating the world at this time in your life are real and can feel very intense.
During adolescence, you are still in the throes of cognitive development. Often, the connection between action and consequence is not present, and so teenagers find themselves making unbalanced decisions. Whether it’s under-evaluating consequences and acting rashly, or over-evaluating consequences and demanding absolute perfection, the reality often differs from what a younger person perceives. Recognizing this and taking steps to counteract will promote a mindful and healthy transition into young adulthood.
Allowing Yourself to Fail
Whoever told you that failing was not okay, and that failure made you a terrible person, was wrong. Read that sentence as many times as you need to until it sticks. Failing is a result of trying, and failing is one of the best ways to learn. There is no reason you should know how to do something perfectly the first time. Each time you fail you gain valuable knowledge that may help you later in life. Failure is an opportunity to think critically and solve a project or issue. The key word is the opportunity. History is full of successful failures. Read about Bill Gates journey to success and you will understand that failure often provides lessons that can change the world.
The Giving Tree
The popular children’s book; the Giving Tree from author Shel Silverstein is an excellent example of self-care. It’s often misinterpreted, teaching kids to remain endlessly kind. But its heartfelt message is so incredibly clear: don’t give yourself away, even out of kindness. Perfectionists often prioritize their work over themselves and their self-care. Here is some food for thought: if you give yourself the very best, you can give the very best of you to others.
Imagine what the tree could have been for the man if the tree had only given what it could after keeping itself healthy. A flourishing tree could have fed and warmed the man’s family for generations. Instead, the tree gave and gave until there was nothing left. Make time to rest and take care of yourself before you complete that paper. You’ll find it to be much more “perfect” than the one you would have written at 1:00 am, fueled by stressors and energy drinks.
When was the last time you stopped to consciously breathe? When was the last time you put everything down, shut off your brain, looked around and just existed? Give yourself a moment each day, just five minutes, and detach from all your responsibilities and distractions. Do nothing except intentionally breathe. Allow yourself to take a break from your worries and your life for just a few minutes each day. I assure you; it will be waiting for you when you return, but the world will not end if you are away for just a moment or two. And allowing yourself to do absolutely nothing for just a small segment each day can have an enormous effect on your overall wellness.
Habits developed during adolescence become second nature as adults. These three slight shifts in your routine can help you reel back the stressors of perfectionism. Allowing yourself to fail, giving yourself the best care, and taking a moment or two to do nothing can help shape a mindful and healthy future. These healthy habits will be invaluable as you navigate the roadblocks and obstacles throughout the years to come.