Shattering student perfectionism

Sara Bertsch News Editor


 “Sometimes, from our darkest hours come our greatest leadership visions,” said Maria Pascucci, president of Campus Calm, life coach and award-winning author.

Pascucci was the keynote speaker for the Women’s Leadership Summit held all day Tuesday, April 1. Her speech was titled Get Perfectly Imperfect and Lead as she talked to students and faculty in the Performing Arts Center. 

Campus Women’s Coalition has about two or three major events they put on each semester and in the spring they always co-sponsor a Women’s Studies Conference. This year is the third annual Women’s Studies Conference and the topic was women’s leadership.

“The thing we liked about Maria [Pascucci] is that her whole focus is students, so women’s leadership at the university level,” said Christine Garst-Santos, faculty advisor of Campus Women’s Coalition.

A clip from TV show The Simpsons filled as the opening sequence to Pascucci’s speech. The clip focused on the character Lisa receiving a B+ on a report card where she received A’s in all of the other subjects. She began to freak out and felt that she believed she failed because it was not a straight A report card. 

Pascucci then began to speak on perfectionism and students who struggle with this are being held back from their full potential. Pascucci said she was one of the students.

“I learned at a young age I had to be perfect,” Pascucci said. “… One of the downfalls of perfectionism is it prevents us from going out of our comfort zone.” 

According to Pascucci, 74 percent of young women feel pressure to be perfect in a survey conducted by Seventeen and Yahoo. She encourages students to take breaks and take care of themselves. 

“We tend to ‘should’ all over ourselves, I should, I should, I should,” Pascucci said.

She engaged the audience by asking questions throughout her speech and listened to several answers. One example, she asked the audience if they ask themselves what if and followed it by the worst possible situations. Pascucci said that people should put more positive situations behind what if. She said the mind is a muscle and students need to train it. 

“What we heard time and time again is exactly what Maria [Pascucci] was talking about, is that there is so much stress on college campuses today,” said Garst-Santos. “… Everyone has to be the best at everything, but I think sometimes students are just overwhelmed, so we really liked that it was one of her talking points. First addressing that stress and then looking at moving beyond that as you take on leadership roles.”

Pascucci told students that there are several barriers to leadership students struggle with. No time due to part time jobs, and schoolwork can take up a students’ time. Also the fear of failure and the fear of success put a barrier to leadership for students. 

Pascucci reflected on her own struggles with perfectionism, trying to lead and how she slowly is getting through it. She still finds herself falling back into her old habits, but can’t stop herself. She has learned to just be herself. Her grandfather is her role model in leadership, kindness and character. 

“I love who I am and what I do is an expression of who I am,” Pascucci said. 

Everyone in attendance at Pascucci’s speech received a free digital copy of her book Campus Calm University

Campus Women’s Coalition also has several events coming up in April that they will be co-sponsoring. Take Back the Night March on April 22 is a march that begins with a rally at the Campanile and will end at the old Firehouse in downtown Brookings. 

In addition they will also have another speaker, Courtney Martin, talk on April 23 in the PAC about activism in the younger generation and if one person can make a difference in the world.