Teens feel pressure for perfection

Teen stress levels are much higher than they used to be, for more reasons than one. But specifically, one stands out. In previous years, teenagers could make mistakes. They could learn, and grow. That isn’t a practical possibility for high school kids today.

Brittany Barnhardt

Brittany Barnhardt

Today, we are expected to be perfect, at an age that is the most influential in a person’s life. We are no longer allowed to make mistakes or be less than the best. Whether it’s academics or athletics, it seems like we are expected to be the best and nothing less than that is good enough for society.

Teenagers used to be expected to make mistakes. They could struggle through their adolescent years. They could focus on their friends and family just as much as their academic success, but now those things aren’t possible. They aren’t socially accepted, even though many adults claim them to be.

My generation is expected to be the best, have the best grades, the best home life and the best body. Parents, coaches, teachers and society itself expect this of us, day-in and day-out. We are supposed to be the best, at all times. It’s not OK for us to make mistakes anymore, or even screw up. It’s like the world expects us to be super-humans, when we are just dramatic clumsy teenagers.

We shouldn’t get criticized if we aren’t perfect at everything. Adults don’t realize the high standard they push onto teenagers, and the criticism they hand out when those standards are not being met. What adults no longer understand is that we should be given the chance to make mistakes. It should be acceptable for us to fail. We should be given the chance to grow and learn from our own experiences, not those of others.

We are teenagers. We are hormonal, dramatic, clumsy and emotional and need our last years of adolescent life to help us learn from our own mistakes. We need to able to fail, because is anyone really the best at everything?

Brittany Barnhardt is a senior at Mandan High School, where she is involved in the Go-Getters 4-H Club, serves as a North Dakota 4-H Ambassador, is a member of FFA, National Honor Society and Spanish Club and is a Trust-n-Teens worker. She enjoys reading, 4-H and spending time with family and friends. Brittany is the daughter of Kim and Steve Barnhardt, who are members of Mor-Gran-Sou Electric Cooperative.