More and more, we are beginning to see a rising number of adolescents who, in striving for excellence, have developed elevated levels of stress.
For many high schoolers, the biggest single stressor is that it feels impossible to get to a place where they feel they've "done enough" and can put down their proverbial pencils and just, sort of, stop for a moment. There always feels like there's one more AP class to study up for, one more game to play in, one more instrument to learn in order to get into a top college. High schoolers and even middle schoolers are beginning to get a sense that they aren't "measuring up."
But what exactly are they measuring themselves against? To psychologist and EXPLO Professor-in-Residence Olivia Moorehead-Slaughter, it's both a simple and a dangerous thing we've all heard before: perfection.
We present ourselves as finished products... but nothing is ever as perfect as it looks. Nothing is ever a straightforward trajectory.
Moorehead-Slaughter reminds us that to decrease our anxiety, we must abandon this notion of perfection both for ourselves and how we perceive perfection in others — peers, coaches, parents, and heroes.
Changing your mindset may take a lot of practice. That's okay — we encourage you to not be so hard on yourself. Nobody, and we mean nobody is perfect.
ABOUT FAKING PERFECTION
Here are some really interesting (and some just fun) links that we have been recently indulging in to learn more about faking perfection.
- "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good." Sound familiar? If Voltaire hadn't kicked it 300 years ago, he would have totally helped co-write this awesome and inspiring Manifesto of a Doer.
- Most jigsaw puzzles present assemblers with a clear challenge: Arrange the pieces just right. Here's one that encourages you to arrange them all wrong
- Have you ever procrastinated doing the work you want in the name of perfectionism? Some call it paralysis by analysis.
- To combat food waste, Imperfect Produce, a SF Bay Area start-up, sells really fresh — but seriously ugly-looking 😂— fruits and vegetables that would never otherwise make it to grocery store shelves. When food teaches us to see it like it is.
Howard Shultz of Starbucks discusses how even the best CEOs are insecure: “Very few people, whether you’ve been in that job before or not, get into the seat and believe today that they are now qualified to be the CEO. They’re not going to tell you that, but it’s true.”
Feeling anxious, loving, dreamy, confident, guilty, grateful, envious, solitary, obsessed, or embarrassed? This Emotional Barometer breaks down our emotions in some pretty helpful ways.
A board game with a 1980s vibe, arcade-style boss battles, and just enough chance to keep things out of your control? Sounds like a perfect Saturday night playing Boss Monsters.
At EXPLO, liberal arts takes many forms, exercises, and events. Just a few EXPLO experiences that encourage students to choose undecided include:
- Course: Make a pact with failure in Aerodynamic Physics, where you'll test, retest, and test again anything ranging from giant trebuchets to rideable hovercrafts (grades 10-12)
- Workshops + Courses: Have notable Screenwriter J.V. Hart, Supreme Court Justice Richard Gabriel, or NPR's Bill Littlefield give you a first hand perspective on the ups and downs of their early careers in roundtable discussions during class (grades 10-12)
- Course: Demystify your personal heroes like Galileo, Cleopatra, or Einstein, by learning about their historic (and sometimes bumpy) trajectory to fame in Time Travel History (grades 4-7)
- Workshop: Remove the boundary that comes with the fear of failure and try an entirely new instrument! Play your heart out in Introduction to Ukulele, dedicated to students who have never played before. (grades 4-7)
- Weekend Trip: On Sunday, watch the thermodynamics of glass in action at the Diablo Glass Blowing Studio — where you'll not only make masterpieces out of glass, but become comfortable in shattering them as well (grades 8+9)
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