All within twelve waking hours, I struggle with internal and external pressures to be: a student extraordinaire, service guru, friend supreme, and sassy, adorable flirt, simultaneously and without sweat or effort.
Whether I’m influenced from subliminal messages from the media, or my innate need to reach unreachable standards, each day is a rat race to meet my own expectations. Somehow, I’m never able to achieve highly enough to soothe my own anxieties about who I should be, how I should act, and what I should say.
Don’t get the wrong impression, I’m not a neurotic basketcase, but on some level, my mind is constantly processing pressures from both inside and outside influences.
Our culture demands that young women have it all, or at least create the illusion that we do. We must maintain perfect academic performance, give back to the community in a meaningful way, juggle a job to ensure cash flow, look fabulous without revealing any superficial intentions, and at the end of the day, still be the most entertaining person in the room.
Even those standards we set for ourselves are influenced by external sources, including magazines and TV shows that bombard us with images of perfection. Real people are not portrayed in our media, whether it be through airbrushing of models or through TV characters who somehow never miss a beat. These images translate into ideals that we aspire to achieve.
But these ideals are not real; these images are not achievable nor are they desirable. As long as we try to mirror what we see in the media, we will fail and we young women will suffer the fallout. By constantly allowing ourselves to stress over these unconquerable standards, we are giving in to others’ conceptions of who we should be and how we should identify. We’re sucking ourselves dry of our energy and passion, to please others.
So, as difficult as it may be to practice, I offer an alternate option: to let it go. I suggest that we can make a conscious decision to deny these poisonous influences and simply live on our own terms. Cliché? Probably. But the sentiment is valid.
I declare that I personally will not allow myself to become entangled in pressures to be perfect in ways that are completely irrelevant to my identity and my life. And I hope you’ll do the same.