Grace, 14, is a straight A student, a star on her select basketball team, and tries desperately hard to be perfect in everything that she does. And, in her words, it’s not enough to be perfect; “I feel every day like I have to be amazing!” That’s obviously an impossible benchmark to live up to, but Grace continually strives to reach it each and every day.
Much of her stress comes from comparing herself to and competing with her peers. Only so many girls can be in the top 5% of their class, and even fewer get admitted to the Ivy League schools that has become their Holy Grail. So girls today have embraced the more male energies of competition, ambition, and aggression that propel them towards a win-at-all-costs mentality and the drive for perfection in everything they do. It’s a 24/7 contest with an intense level of competition amongst girls in academics, sports, socially, and with their appearance.
Girls and women have bought the cultural lie that says they have to live up to an impossibly high standard: be the perfect daughter, friend, husband, mother, career woman etc. They are supposed to grow into young women who are leaning in until they are a CEO of a Fortune 500 company or bust. Oh, and they have to be thin, pretty, sexy, popular, and hot, and make it all look effortless as well.
So I feel for the Graces of the world because they are fighting a losing battle with perfection. She needs information, perspective, support, and mentors. And I want her to start focusing more inward, so that she can know what’s right for her no matter what people around her and the culture are saying. If we would start providing such guidance, direction, and support for our girls, than that would truly be amazing!