“Perfectionism is the voice of the opressor, the enemy of the people.” -Anne Lamott
Just over the fence from one of the country’s most prestigious and sought after educational insitutions (Stanford), an alarming number of teens have taken their own lives within the last 2 years. 1 is already alarming enough. Adolescence presents one with what could be argued as the most emotional, painful, destabilizing experiences of one’s development. It’s a provocative, painful, emotional, destabilizing, and exciting time all rolled into one. And that’s only the universal, developmental part of it. Add to this temperament, family, outside pressures, school, and one’s own experiences of these things and well, things could go awry. Especially, if the people around these youth chalk challenges just up to a phase, expect the best and nothing less. It can all be too much, unnecessary even. As said, there’s a lot going on already. Suicide is only one manifestation of pain, but it is perhaps the loudest, the most tragic, the most finite. It gets your attention in an undeniable way.
The article below depicts a metaphorical pressure cooker that is high school “perfectionism” via straight A’s and near flawless SAT scores. The author speculates that this high school scene is the culprit in both the aforementioned tragedies and a growing trend to pursue and achieve perfectionism. This piece may ignite a war re: where exactly to place the blame and per the comments, readers argue about it; Is it the parents? Is it the school? Is it big pharma? The DSM?
All of the these options have a big potential to be a receptacle for our own projections and this happening beyond Stanford’s backyard. At the very least though, I hope that it gives us pause to stop and wonder, “What is happening with our kids? What is happening with us? Perhaps too, suicide is only one way of communicating the wish to end these pressures.
Check out the NYT op ed piece here: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/12/opinion/sunday/frank-bruni-best-brightest-and-saddest.html