Social Pressure and Mental Health Part 1

“Will you be an athlete? Will you be an entertainer? Will you sell drugs? Will you be a revolutionary? Will you be an intellectual? Will you be a nobody?” The thoughts, words and actions of people in your life can greatly influence your decision-making and thought processes for better or for worse, and in a direct or indirect manner. When I was younger, I was always told that I should be a doctor or a lawyer because I was smart and did well in school.  Naturally, I also adopted this train of thought, and set out to pursue the “dream” that other people had created for me.

Looking back on things…when I was younger, many of my expectations were set by family, friends and the people within my community. From the type of car I should drive to where I should live, and definitely, what I should do for a living.

But, why should a person model their life based on what others believed they should do?

I held on to the “dream” of being a doctor throughout my years in college, despite the fact that I struggled with the required core courses because I hated them, or I was not interested or fully invested. I was miserable.  BUT I was expected to do it. So I did.

The result --

People say I should be a doctor  +  the fear of not passing my classes = Stress

I want to be social and make friends + fear of people not liking me = Stress (I know people say they do not care what others think about them… OH OK)

Fear of failure = STRESS

Stress, it seems, is a simple fact of life today. Schedules are tighter, deadlines are more urgent and an increasing amount of issues demand our attention. For many, the question has progressed from “are you stressed?” to “are you stressed enough?”  So why weigh yourself down with more stress?

Attempting to live up to the expectations and plans of others left me overwhelmed with stress and therefore contributed to the decline of my mental wellness, which evolved into moods of depression. It was too much bear.

As I began to focus more on my own interests, I began to drift away from thoughts built on the foundation of what others thought, and developed my own dream.

Yes, we will be faced with pressures from family and friends throughout life. And, yes, many times that pressure comes from a genuine, positive place. But when we find ourselves engrossed in those pressures and unable to find solace or happiness, or even satisfaction, we must learn to take a step back to ensure we are pursuing and preserving our own dreams, happiness and health.