Are We Teaching Our Youth To Be Lonely?
Last week we talked about youth and their level of loneliness.
It really is bothering me that our youth, with more access to connective devices than ever in history, are feeling more disconnected and lonely than ever. If you missed that blog, you can check it out here Is Our Communication Really Connection?
We talked about why we don’t use our phones as phones anymore. Why we hate to call or be called. And how as adults we don’t know why. We just don’t do it.
I spent the last week pressing this question and I got a response I was not expecting.
“It gives me anxiety to know I have to respond immediately. What if I say the wrong thing? I need time to organize my thoughts. I don’t want to say the wrong thing and look stupid”.
We have become so curated in our lives that we fear spontaneity.
So much so that it gives us anxiety.
At first I was gobsmacked, but then I realized this makes total sense.
Everything we do on social media is curated. We even use filters to make things more sparkly, or to erase our blemishes, or enhance the colour of our eggs benny at Sunday brunch.
That level of curation has seeped into every aspect of our lives.
We have lost the ability to just be, to let others just be, and for that to be totally okay.
Our words to our youth say “we don’t expect perfection, just be the amazing you” but our actions tell a completely different story.
It’s no wonder our youth are filled with anxiety, fear and loneliness.
If perfection is the goal and the pathway to being loved, it should not come as a surprise that our youth are paralyzed and unable to be spontaneous. Afraid that messy them won’t be good enough for the world and not good enough for them to be loved.
Life is messy. We learn when we mess it up. It’s so important to learn to laugh at ourselves, be ok with changing our minds (and saying that out loud), say we are sorry, reframe ourselves when we are not understood the first time. These are the skills of being human! We have created an unspoken expectation that nothing is spontaneous, free from judgment, or worthy unless it is curated, accurate and rehearsed……perfect the first time.
Perfectionism is crippling our youth and we don’t even realize that we are doing it to them.
We have the power to change that.
WE HAVE TO BE WILLING TO GET A LITTLE UNCOMFORTABLE TO DO IT.
Parents, coaches, teachers, mentors, please please please.
Let’s teach these kids that spontaneity is what makes life interesting.
Let’s share our ‘ooops’ moments with them openly.
Let’s let them see how we navigate the mistakes.
Let’s let them see us in process, not just in perfection.
Let spontaneity reign.
We can start small.
Let’s start by picking up that phone and having a real, uncurated, spontaneous phone call.