Earlier this month I had the privilege of speaking at the 2012 National Conference for College Women Student Leaders. This is my third year in a row speaking at NCCWSL. It is by far my favorite conference to speak at because of how moving it is to witness the power of young women from all backgrounds uniting in a collaborative space to find and share their voices. I would recommend that any college woman attend to discover her leadership platform.
I led my workshop, “Love Your Perfectly Imperfect Self & Lead” to a packed to capacity room full of women and a few men who are among our nation’s most accomplished, ambitious and awe-inspiring rising leaders. Many of these same young women are also unfortunately among our nation’s most stressed-out, anxiety-ridden and overwhelmed rising leaders.
It’s one of the best-kept secrets in higher education:
America’s High Achieving College Women Are At-Risk Too.
They are at risk and have been suffering largely in silence because of the pressure that the world, and they place on themselves to be perfect.
We break the cycle of perfectionism when we share our voices to help young women and men see that they are not alone. Click on the link below to listen as rising women leaders from across the country speak out about their struggles with perfectionism and the pressure they feel to achieve more and succeed further even to the detriment of their own health.
My workshop was packed with students because the subjects Campus Calm addresses are typically not talked about publically, as they are such taboo topics in our society. As one young woman attendee said, “Maria’s workshop gave us the safe space that we needed to address the issues that most wouldn’t dare talk about.”
We’re not talking about being a high-achiever, engaged in the classroom driven by a love of learning. Fear-based Ambition with a capital “A”, caused by the fear of not being good enough, can lead to accolades and achievements, but it can also lead to self-doubt, poor self-worth and even mental health challenges like anxiety, depression and sleep difficulties. They are all barriers to leadership and resilience that can weaken young leaders at their roots.
These taboo topics, left unaddressed, can lead to young people suffering in silence. Silence breeds shame. Shame breeds more shame and the cycle never stops. Until we change the story.
So here goes:
- Perfection is sustained by shame and fear.
- Vulnerability is sustained by respect and love.
- Perfection is saying, “yes” to every opportunity and person that comes your way.
- Vulnerability is giving yourself permission to say “no” more so you can create the space to say, “yes” to your own passions, priorities and health.
- Perfection is alienating.
- Vulnerability is a magnet that draws in collaborators who are moved by your authenticity and resilience.
- Perfection leaves you hungry for more with every achievement you earn.
- Vulnerability lets you stand in your success long enough to take it in and savor it as if it were your last.
- Perfection is a recipe for failure.
- Vulnerability is a chance to create your own vision of success.
- Perfection is about impressions.
- Vulnerability is about connections.
- Perfection closes doors.
- Vulnerability makes you a window for other’s to shine through.
- Perfection is an unattainable illusion.
- Vulnerability is an attainable reality that has the power to reshape the world.
- Perfection is the excuse.
- Vulnerability is the will to try.
Here are a few further lessons and words of wisdom from my presentation. Enjoy the following video clips and please share them with your friends!
The mission of Campus Calm is exponentially important because it creates a network of like-minded individuals who can realize they are not alone. During every step of my life I have felt overwhelming and paralyzing pressure to succeed, achieve, grow, meet standards, and live up to the expectations of my dreams. I realize, after finding the Campus Calm network and attending Maria’s presentation at NCCWSL, that I am not alone, and I do not have to be ashamed for feeling the way I do. I can admit that I am scared, that I am over-my-head, that I feel I am never good enough, and all of these truths are okay to speak about. Campus Calm has helped me reflect on the person I am, and has allowed me to begin the realization that I do not have to do it all, be it all, have it all. I can forge my own path, mindful of my choices, but with an attitude of acceptance about my failures as well. I thank Maria endlessly, and her mission, for helping me hold a mirror up to myself, and for serving as the catalyst to a more productive and passionate outlook.
–Katelyn Cohen, Moravian College, Student attendee, 2012 National Conference for College Women Student Leaders
Ever after in faith of ourselves,
Founder & President