We encounter pressure at every stage in our lives.
Whether it’s academic, professional or social, we live in a society where expectations are high and, often, the temptation to compare your life and achievements to everyone else’s is also high. But comparing ourselves also makes us question whether we’re doing ‘enough’.
So here’s a quick word of advice from me: don’t do it.
I read a post by Kate at The Honey Blonde this week which was all about embracing ourselves for who we are. It was meant to be empowering and uplifting – and it was – but I was sad to read her admit that when she first started training as a make up artist, she felt that she ‘hadn’t lived up to a ‘good enough’ career’.
I totally understand where she’s coming from.
I’ll admit that I’ve struggled with expectations and pressure before. When I was at University, I felt the pressure to get a first. No one put that pressure on me. I’m lucky to have incredibly supportive parents who encourage me to do my best – but they’ve never pressured me like some might. Nevertheless I felt like it was something I needed to do to make family and friends proud of me – as well as myself. (Yes, I got it!)
I also felt the pressure at Uni to fit in. I’ve always been a social person but suddenly here I was finding new friends and new circles to fit into. To start with, I was definitely moulding myself to those around me rather than being myself and finding a natural place I felt comfortable. Thankfully, I realised very quickly who I felt most myself with and I started feeling confident in my own skin again.
Any graduate knows that when you leave Uni, the next pressure is to get a good job and put that degree to good use (unless you stay in academia). I trained to be a journalist, working at a high-pressured news agency – effectively working on stories for national tabloids. I didn’t enjoy it. I left, made the move to PR and spent an amazing few years working in children’s publishing, forging some of my closest friendships along the way. Did I think I’d end up in PR? Absolutely not. Am I glad I did? Absolutely. But I always wondered if I should be doing something else – was my job impressive enough? Had I fulfilled expectations?
Well, eventually, it was the commute to London that made me leave and start over again, taking a job in a press office in sunny Sussex. I’m lucky that I landed on my feet again. I love it here but I know I will always wonder if I’m achieving enough. I’m trying to channel that positively now so that I’m always working my hardest at my career and trying to get the best media coverage possible.
But now, approaching my late 20’s, there’s another entirely different pressure landing on my shoulders. When will I get married? When will I have kids? Why aren’t I thinking about it yet?
Don’t get me wrong, I want both of those things – but we’re currently in the middle of a house renovation and all I want to focus on right now is that, my career, and enjoying what’s left of my 20s! But for some reason I’m surrounded by all these other questions.
Well, enough is enough.
I’ve realised that there is no need to listen to it and it’s something I’m going to try to live by moving forward. It’s good to have ambition and drive, but the only person putting pressure on yourself should be YOU. It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. Live your life the way you want to live it and be happy with where you are. Embrace each moment and surround yourself by those that make you laugh the hardest and smile the longest.
Because at the end of the day, being happy is all that matters.