Give Me Perfection, or, Give Me Death

A brand-new study reveals surprising insight into Gen Y:  Millennials are humans who feel they must be perfect.  My compassion for this generation has grown immensely, after reading this study.  Beneath all the criticism of “basement babies,” and “cohort of entitlement,” is an insidious threat to the mental health of the Millennial generation, and generations to come:  Impossible Perfection.

I did not see this trait for what it is:  Seeking love in a socially isolated, physically detached, amorally secular environment.  It seems like a “perfect storm” of society and technology.

I remember when families were together most of the time.  We were private about our individual and family business.  We ate together, we played together, we entertained together, and we worshiped together.  I mean TOGETHER, integrated physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

Compare that old model to the disintegrated way modern families work.  When did we stop eating together? When did we start sending pictures of our food to strangers?  Since when did family members ignore each other, in the same room, lost in trances?  When did we start substituting silent messages for face to face conversations? Since when did children kill themselves over embarrassment?

Two, young, English, Psychology PhD’s, Thomas Curran, and Andrew P. Hill, co-authored a study on American, Canadian, and British college students from 1989 to 2016.  They measured and evaluated three types of perfection.  Their findings:

Self-oriented Perfection

  • Attach irrational importance to being perfect
  • Have unrealistic expectations of themselves
  • Are punitive in self-evaluations
  • Feel inadequate, and unlovable

Associated with

  • Clinical depression
  • Anorexia
  • Nervosa
  • Early death

Socially-Prescribed Perfection

  1. Believe their social context is excessively demanding
  2. Others judge them harshly
  3. Displays of perfection to secure approval, and love

Associated with:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Suicide

Other-Oriented Perfection:

  • Impose unrealistic standards on those around them
  • Evaluate others critically
  • Displays of perfection to seek approval, acceptance, and love
  • Model others, join groups, perform favors

Associated with:

  • Antagonizing
  • Conflict
  • Blame
  • Criticism
  • Disdain
  • Vindictiveness
  • Hostility
  • Lower
    • Trust
    • Altruism
    • Compliance
    • Sexual Satisfaction

I could find no studies that show positive improvements in the lives of Millennials, from this model of constant pursuit of perfection.  Humans make myriad mistakes in a lifetime. People are praised, ridiculed, admonished, and challenged every day, yet we make friends, find love, have fun, and enjoy our successes, despite our flaws.

People are, at the same time, perfect as they are, and imperfect in what they try to be. We have to “get over” ourselves, and be grateful for the amazing gift of life we have received.

These perfectionist ways of being are poisonous distractions from what real life, and relationships can be.  I do not know what we can do to put our society back on track.

How can we revive “do your best” as acceptable and approved?  How can we release this captivation with virtual relationships and hug real friends and family?  How can we get families back together, REALLY?  Who do we want our children to trust and rely on?  How can we reinstate direct physical time with others as the gold standard in communication?

When Millennials finally get married (we have seen lengthy delays in doing this) and have children of their own, how will they raise them?

Here is a link that might help. Don’t Try So Hard to be Perfect – Nobody Cares & You Could Hurt Yourself