We all have things we hide behind to make us feel or seem better. It could be a photo filter, cropping a photo to only show our good parts, photo shopping our photos to make us look thinner, retaking photos hundreds of times to get the PERFECT shot…the one that makes us look just right. But what is “just right”? What is “perfect”? Who tells us what IS the just right or perfect photo? What standards do we go by? What bar do we set for ourselves? What is the difference in being our authentic self and being perfect for others?
Photos of ourselves is just one small example of how we try to be that “perfect” person. We all know we aren’t perfect and there is no such thing as perfect. Why do we put this pressure on ourselves? I am 51 and just starting to realize that I only need to care how I feel about my self…not what others think I should feel about my self. I am not perfect, I look like crap in the morning, I am heavier than I’d like to be. But I AM OK with me. It took me a long time to be able to feel that way. I am not my makeup, my colored in roots, my weight, my income, my clothes or even my smart ass personality. I am me.
Your self value should not be judged by how many people like your photo, love your Tik Toks, follow you on a social media platform. Your value is not determined by what college you get into, how you do on standardized testing, what honors or AP classes you take in high school. Your self value doesn’t come from the type of house you live in, the income of your household or what car your parents drive. Your self value doesn’t come from having a $40 water bottle, $100 athletic leggings, or even overpriced shoes. Your self value doesn’t come from what OTHERS think or say you should be.
I am starting to see how these “standards” and “filters” are affecting teens right now. I would love to blame it all on social media….I mean – we all love a “LIKE” – it gives a tiny rush of happiness. While I think some of it is to blame on social media…but how do we get our children to realize that their value is more than a “LIKE”, more than a FOLLOW or more than a trail of positive comments? So many kids I know right now are being treated for anxiety, depression, eating disorders…so many teens are opting to do school online, so many teens are up til after midnight working on homework, and yet need to be up at 6 for school – but doctors and mental health workers say teens need 8-10 hours of sleep (or more) a night. Limit screen time – but schools give kids ipads. Our kids are stressed because they might suck at science and math – but excel in arts….and guess what? Schools don’t measure that factor in standardized testing. Schools are taking play out of basic learning at the Kindergarten level – brains need to develop though play before they are developmentally ready to learn. If little Suzy can’t read at Kindergarten level we freak….but can she share, play with others, be kind? If yes, than that is what she needs to go onto school.
What do we do as parents? As educators? How do we navigate this more advanced technical, honor class, having the best of the best society AND keep our children sane and save their mental health?
When you go into high schools for 9th grade orientation and talk about their registration, its like you are going to register for an over the top university and deciding a major at the 8th grade level!! Kids have no idea what they want at that age as far as a career. Schools promote AP and Honors classes so it “looks good on a college application” – the stress of that at such a young age is baffling. I get that a student maybe more advanced in certain classes – that is great. But do we need to force those classes? What happened to just doing the best you can, go to Friday nigh football games and have fun free time with your friends? The pressure is overwhelming from so many angles. I am not bashing schools…my kids go to one of the best school districts in our state. I am concerned about the people higher up that force the standards in our schools when they are not even connected to education…..Our teachers do what they are told to do by the powers above.
Whether its social media influencing us to be a “certain way”, schools wanting us to score a “certain way” and surroundings wanting us to be a “certain way” – what can we do to coach our kids that they are enough just being themselves. Strip down all the “Likes” the “follows” and the comments….who are they? Without all that influence, who are they? Who do they want to be?
As a parent we picture in our heads how their future looks…what we want for them – popularity, being the best in sports, wanting them to sign up for activities that we as parents want them to do – but that isn’t THEM – that is us. How do we draw the line between what WE want and what THEY want? The line between helping them and encouraging them to do hard things? The line between doing well and making the school look well?