Pressure is something we all face, whether it is from other people or pressure that we place on ourselves. Don’t get me wrong, wanting to be the best you can be and pushing yourself to your limits, whether that’s physically or practically is something I admire and encourage. But there’s another kind of pressure that can be a massive problem for so many people. It’s the feeling that we have to be like someone/everyone else; to conform to societal pressures or pressure put on us by other people, to do things we don’t want to do. That kind of pressure is often fatal to our happiness.
So this time last year I decided to do an art course. My artwork got me into one of the best courses out there, everyone was in agreement I should go for it and that it was a great decision for me. I even believed it was a great chance, a ‘once in a lifetime opportunity that I wouldn’t get again’ is a personal favourite that I was told on a number of occasions. This one became far less effective after hearing it 10 times.
I loved design and still do but I had doubts as to whether the course was a good choice for a variety of reasons. Even so, I felt huge pressure to take the opportunity but worse, after realising it wasn’t for me I felt huge pressure to stick it out.
[It’s important to note here that I think it’s easy to confuse initial nerves with feeling pressured and when in doubt I think it’s a good idea to try things out, or you’ll never know.]
This wasn’t just pressure from others, I put a lot of pressure on myself to continue the course. I despised the thought of quitting; It goes against everything I believe in. Even though the pressures were all meant with the best intentions, there comes a time when you must take a step back and ask yourself, “Are you happy with where you are, who you are and where you are going?”. If the answer is no, forget any pressures you may feel and make a change. Don’t settle for anything less than happiness, everyone is entitled to that.
“I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.” – Steve Jobs
I don’t for a single minute regret the decision to try. From there I have been living life to the full, it’s been a roller coaster ride and I wouldn’t have achieved half of what I have done if I hadn’t taken the initial plunge into the unknown. What is important is I allowed myself to let people down, to make a decision to change paths even though there was a lot of pressure to finish what I started.
I guess what I am trying to say is don’t let anyone pressure you into making decisions. Don’t do things to please anyone but yourself or you could end up resentful and unhappy. When you feel pressure to do certain things, act a certain way or follow the norm remember you only have one life: Live it for yourself – with no regrets.
When you begin to live for yourself, ignoring pressures, you feel instantly happier and excited for life. Don’t ever let pressure to succeed stop you from taking risks and trying new things. Learn to accept that we have to fail a heck of a lot before we can succeed. Waking up to the realisation that you are doing what you want due to your own choices: it’s a slightly scary but empowering feeling. I think it’s called living.
“Pressure is a beautiful and powerful force that enables us to live to the best of our abilities and fight to the death for our dreams. It enables us to find that extra strength to endure the hard times ahead. It’s pressure that makes us grow.
But there’s another pressure, a dark miserable pressure that should be banished from our lives. It’s this pressure that makes us fear failure, that blinds our thoughts. It’s that ridiculous need to please and conform. Screw that!”
Live for now, no one is guaranteed a tomorrow.