It seems like the current generation of 20 to 30 year-olds are more individualistic than the previous one. As a Millennial I can confirm this. When I talk about ‘life’ with my peers, the same theme often comes up; we want to achieve ultimate happiness, we want to travel, have an amazing job and are looking for the perfect relationship all at the same time. The quest for perfection and happiness often makes us doubt and procrastinate certain choices. But does this make us happy?

Quest for perfection

Travelling, a cool job with a good salary and a great and strong relationship; don’t we all dream of these things? Sometimes I feel like my generation is constantly searching for the unattainable. On the other hand, it can also feel like there are so many people that have achieved this perfect life; just open your Instagram app. You are immediately showered with perfect pictures of successful 20 or 30 year-olds, who fly all over the world for their own businesses and then come home to their perfect family. But this quest for perfection causes a lot of uncertainty. It often makes us doubt; is this partner good enough for me? Does this job suit me, or are there better options? Shouldn’t I be more ambitious instead of settling with my current life?

Loneliness

Constantly doubting your life, being dissatisfied and searching for more, leads to loneliness among millennials. Research found that 30% say they feel lonely, as opposed to 15% of baby boomers. Singles spend hours on dating apps like Tinder or Bumble, but finding the perfect partner often turns out to be an illusion. Because of all those sky-high expectations, life can sometimes be disappointing.

Stability

So why are millennials constantly striving for perfection and why are we so afraid to ‘settle’ with what we have? Of course I can answer that from my own experience, but I also know that people need stability from a psychological perspective. Just look at Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Having a stable relationship gives you a sense of security and an intimate relationship is also important for your social needs. Do we feel that these perfect lives give us more stability than our current lives and are we actually on a quest for stability, instead of perfection?

How do you deal with these feelings?

Maybe you recognize yourself in the above and also find it difficult to settle down with what you have. If so, I’d like to give you some tips to help you deal (better) with this feeling:

  • Look at the facts. Where are you now in your life? Do you have a nice job, do you live on your own or do you have a lovely family and a nice group of friends? Try to look objectively at all the milestones you have already achieved, then you will see that it really isn’t that bad.
  • Don’t compare yourself to others. The life you see on Instagram or TikTok is not the truth; it is a snapshot of this person’s life. Would you put yourself on Instagram crying because you are having an ‘off day’? No? The person you look up to probably doesn’t either. No one is perfect and everyone has their own concerns and problems.
  • Set realistic goals. When you set the bar too high for yourself, chances are you will be disappointed and maybe lose confidence in yourself. You don’t have to strive to fly 1st class to the Maldives next year as an international influencer. Try to set a realistic goal for yourself; for example, try to get that promotion next year that you wanted so badly, or make that switch to another job.
  • Try to accept yourself. This may sound easier than it is, but it is so important to live a happy life! Try not to look at the people around you, but at what you find important in life. Do things that make you happy and that suit you, even if it may not be the popular route. Surround yourself with people who have a positive influence on you and do what makes you happy; even though that may not take you to the Maldives in 1st class.
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Maaike van der Kaaij

My name is Maaike and I am a psychologist at NiceDay. During sessions with my clients I find it really important they feel free to tell me everything. I am interested in people's behaviour and enjoy helping people gain new insights! Besides my work, I love my family, travelling, working out and going out to dinner.

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