Young people nowadays are under extreme pressure to fit in the box of social norms; whether it is to fit gender stereotypes, parental and schooling expectations or self pressure, we are under more pressure than ever to reach some kind of state of perfection.
Gender equality has been an issue since the beginning of time. Due to the patriarchal society in which the western world we live in originates, women and girls are still subjected to continuous sexism and misogyny. In many public areas, women and men are expected to abide by different norms and rules.
For example, many schools expect girls to wear dresses or skirts while boys are expected to wear pants or shorts. In addition, in schools, why are girls asked to wear longer length dresses or skirts? Because the boys in the class may get distracted? Boys on the other hand are expected to be sporty and manly, with the thought of a boy being emotional viewed by society as weak and feminine.
Parents and schools often stick to social norms. In society we are expected to behave in certain ways, in which the behaviour may or may not be logically proven to be necessary or beneficial.
Our parents often expect us to be their “baby” forever, believing that we are incapable of thought and thus attempt to cradle and control our lives. Whether it’s at school or at home, we are expected to juggle our studies, social life, part time work and volunteer etcetera. These expectations go way over most of our abilities, resulting in stress overload.
With societal expectations being such a big part of our lives, our minds become programmed to meet these expectations, hoping to check each off as if we were shopping for the perfect way to behave and the perfect life.
Many of us do what we do because we want to reach the vision of perfectionism. We want to be the top student academically, socially and physically. We want to blend in with the rest of society, with the exception of some extremely courageous individuals who embrace their differences, and admit to the fact that they will be their own individual, and not live in the shadows of societal stereotypes or expectations.
For the rest of us, when we are hit with the realisation that we are not going to be what the world has programed us to be, we fall into the state of denial, and continue to push for the sense of perfectionism, in which the society has placed on an unreachable pedestal.
With these constant societal expectations, we are seemingly locked in the stifling, rigid environment, where difference is discouraged and may even be shunned or frowned upon. With the amount of pressure on young people nowadays increasing steadily, society should become more accepting of new ideas and approaches, helping the future generation flourish in their own individualistic and diverse ways.
Aisha, Caroline, Cindy and Chloe are a group of high school students who hung out at FYA for a week of Work Inspiration. We asked them to write an article on something important to them and, well look, the rest is history.