In today’s society, more pressures seem to exist around having a perfect life, getting a high paying job or taking that perfect picture for your Instagram account.
This couldn’t be more evident for those either attending or graduating university as they transition from their childhood years into adulthood and the pressure to be on point each and every time have seemingly gone through the roof over the past decade.
A recent study found college students are feeling more societal pressure to be perfect than those before them and popular platforms like Facebook are being linked as the likely cause.
We spoke to UNBC Wellness Centre Manager Sarah Hanson who says millennials are struggling with the concept of real life not always equalling their online presence.
“There is this pressure every moment needs to be on Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest worthy and the truth is, life is not always Pinterest worthy. Not every meal that you cook belongs on the front of a magazine and some of that can be rather intrusive or immediate.”
“Someone said to me if only my Facebook life resembled anything like my Facebook life because everybody puts the beautiful family shots and the happy moments on Facebook and I think we are lulled into this sense that everything needs to be perfect.”
Lots of people in their twenties and even their early thirties are feeling the societal expectation of living up to a certain standard based on what is seen on social media on daily or even a minute-by-minute basis leading some people to be more critical of their body image and other social aspects.
Hanson believes print media especially magazines played a major role in what the perfect body image should be but with more online resources available now, people are having a much tougher time dealing with those messages.
“It used to be you’d go down there and buy that magazine and look through it, tear out the pages and put your little board up around those pictures, whereas now you’re just inundated, so part of the behavioural piece is your receiving those messages at an ever-increasing rate and there is almost no filter,”
“If you have an Instagram account you’re constantly bombarded by these images getting through, it’s not like it is filtered out and I also think we haven’t done a very good job as a society in teaching people on how to be critical about the messages that we allow ourselves to receive,” added Hanson.
Recent findings suggest college graduates have higher expectations of themselves and others than in previous generations and are more likely to make it more of a competition to meet certain pressures.
“Often times students struggle to enjoy a group process because if I don’t do a great job in my part of the process, maybe I won’t get as a good of a mark and I think we haven’t gotten quite the right message around not having every part of your learning not being directly related to having a high-paying job.”
However, the gradual rise of perfectionism has resulted in a growing number of mental illness among the demographic – most notably anxiety and depression.
“They are two leading issues people are suffering from across the nation and if you look at the age ranges between 18 and 29 is when most people are going to have their first incidences of either anxiety or depression or some sort of mental health issue and you’re also at a stage of life where you’re often getting stretched beyond your comfort zone – maybe you’ve never failed at anything before and you get a paper back less than perfect but you had the standard in high school you could meet quite easily, so that could trigger someone to be even more anxious.”
Hanson adds resources like Anxiety BC would be a great start in getting a better handle on any mental health issues you might be having.