Perfection, Peer Pressure & Pinterest

I’ve been wanting to write this post for awhile and finally I’ve carved out some time to do so.

So, this post will lean pretty heavily towards stay at home moms and there will be a heavy LDS (Latter-Day Saint aka Mormon) slant as well. But I’m pretty sure this could apply to anyone at any stage of life. Just know that this is the direction I’m coming from.

Over the last couple months I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be perfect. Most religions strive for some form of perfection or enlightenment, a betterment of self. As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ and Latter-Day Saints and a Christian I’ve been taught to follow the example of Jesus Christ, to be Christ-like. We are sometimes told “to be perfect like Him”. This puts a lot of pressure on people, a lot of unneeded pressure.

No one is perfect. No one is without flaw or with out sin. To tell people that that’s what they have to be is stupid. And yet, scripture tells us to be perfect, but, what if we’re reading it wrong?

In the General Women’s Meeting, held by the church a few weeks ago, Linda K. Burton, Relief Society General President gave a new definition of what it means to be perfect. In her talk, “Wanted: Hands and Hearts to Hasten the Work”, Burton retells the story of the young rich man asking Jesus how to attain eternal life. I’ll paraphrase here: Jesus tells him to obey the Ten Commandments. The rich man says he already does that. Then Jesus says, “If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven; and come and follow me.” (Matt 19:21)

Burton then goes on to say, “Now, sisters, let’s not start beating ourselves up because the Savior spoke to the rich young man about becoming perfect. The word perfect in this account was translated from a Greek word that means “complete”. As we try our best to move forward along the covenant path, we become more complete and perfect in this life.”

This, I feel, is the true definition of what it means to be perfect. It doesn’t mean to be without flaw or sinless, it means to be our complete selves. To do our jobs/duties/whatever more fully and to live knowing we did our best.

And yet, there’s still all this pressure to be what we aren’t. Peer pressure is still alive and kicking long after high school. It looks different now that I’m an adult. It’s no longer the obnoxious guy shoving a beer under my nose (true story). It’s gotten quieter and slips more easily into our minds. Peer Pressure is now more about what we think other people are doing and our natural fear of being judged.

Maybe this is just me, but this is how I see peer pressure as an adult and a mom. Think of that friend or that person you know who seems to have everything about their lives all put together and in order. They’re always well dressed, they’re sweet, everyone loves them, you go to their house and it is clean and stylish, their children are well behaved, they’re excellent at their job and all around you look at them and think how perfect they or their life is. And then you start to wonder how you can be like them.

BAM! Peer Pressure.

Now, it isn’t wrong to get tips or tricks from them to try and improve your own life, but there is a limit. Another way to describe peer pressure in adults is Keeping Up With The Jones’, and that is not a healthy life style.

And now we get to Pinterest. What does that have to do with anything, Kricket? I’ll start by saying I love Pinterest. It’s a great way to find and share ideas. I’m using Pinterest here as an example of most social media.

Because of this age of the internet, Facebook and massive amounts of oversharing we are now more aware of our friends day-to-day lives than ever before. We’ve all become a bit narcissistic and enjoy bragging about our accomplishments and sharing every aspect of our day, believing that others seriously care about what we ate for lunch (chicken tortilla soup, btw ;)). So now, as you’re looking through your favorite social media news feed, you’re bombarded with one person’s latest knitted hat, another person’s cruise pictures, another’s perfect vegan lunch and countless babies.

All of this creates a silent peer pressure. We see these things all the time and so we think that we should be doing the same things. We should learn to knit (or some other crafty thing), we need to make enough money to go a cruise, we need to start eating healthier, or, God forbid, we need to either get married or have babies of our own. This is just a small sampling of the different forms of this peer pressure, but you get my drift. Even as adults, we want to be “cool” like everyone else. We want to be like our friends and you can drive yourself insane trying to do it.

I’ve barely scratched the surface of this. I could dive deeper and get into all the peer pressure and the stress of being perfect as a mother. Doing everything right, having the perfect house and kids, being terrified of what other moms think of you, etc.

It’s a vicious cycle. So how do we get out of it and avoid it? This is cheesy but, my advice is, Be Yourself. Figure out what it is you like to do, the things you’re interested in. Figure out how life works best for you. If you want to change something, then do it, try something new, but don’t be afraid to say, “No, that doesn’t work for me.” Don’t hold yourself to anyone else’s standards and keep your personal standards manageable.

Remember, you’re not trying to be perfect, you’re trying to be more completely you, whatever that is. Be Yourself and Don’t Be Ashamed. Also, as a final note: Don’t Be Preachy. So you know who you are and you love it and you think your life style is great. That doesn’t mean it’s going to work for everyone and if you spend all your time talking about your “thing”, whatever it is, you’re just going to annoy people and lose friends.

Thanks for reading! Leave a comment, I’d love to know your thoughts of perfection and peer pressure.

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