Image by Maia Magoga
As I write this now, I am writing in the hopes of making something of myself, driven by an insatiable urge to succeed soon. I am only 20 but I feel as though I must lay the foundations for my future now, and then take 10 long years to work until I feel satisfied and completely accomplished by 30 – 35, if we’re pushing it. This is because I feel this rush, as though I MUST succeed whilst I’m young in work, in love, in every aspect of my life. As though I have no time to waste and no space to allow my 20s to be messy, relaxed and uncertain. But why do we feel so rushed, as if we are running out of time to succeed?
60% of young people have felt so stressed by the pressure to succeed that they have felt unable to cope. Social media platforms, particularly Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and more recently LinkedIn, have been revolutionary in terms of creating a platform for a wider youth community – one that creates an avenue for everyone to share stories of their successes and even find jobs. But the problem is that people tend to paint those successes as their single story. Everyone is keen to talk about their successes but very few mention their failures.
“That fear of being left behind, that fear of failure, creates an environment where we are all working hard to be successful like our peers, and then post those successes online.”
Constantly seeing how well your agemates are doing can make you feel as though you are being left behind – or you will be if you don’t work for hard enough. That fear of being left behind, that fear of failure, creates an environment where we are all working hard to be successful like our peers, and then post those successes online. This instantly creates a cycle – one that traps us in intense competition, a staggering fear of failure and a constant seeking of validation.
I wish I could say that this was just a problem I have, but I see it in all my friends, my acquaintances, my workmates. On some level, this can be seen as a good thing; young people are being encouraged by this rush to succeed to be more ambitious. But could this drive be robbing us of our 20s? One thing is for sure, the anxiety from this rush can get too much to handle. Here are a few tips on how to slow down.
1.Acknowledge your issue
When you find yourself falling victim to this rush to succeed, stop and take a moment to understand why you may be feeling this way. Identifying the problem could be a major way to help you calm down and deal with it in a more rational manner. Acknowledge that the problem is in the pressure you have put on yourself and that you have your whole life to succeed. Don’t be afraid to speak to your friends and the people around you honestly about the pressure you feel, and you may find that they feel the same. Sometimes all you may need is a little understanding to get out of your head.
“Remind yourself that social media is a projection of wins and never losses”
2.Take a breather from social media
Life without social media may be a blindly optimistic idea. There are merits in it, such as the beauty of being able to communicate with those close to you, meeting new people, expressing yourself creatively, and in some ways, it works as a CV or portfolio. Because of that, it may be very hard to cut it out totally for a long period of time.
However, we cannot continue to ignore the impact social media has on our mental wellbeing. Constantly seeing everyone doing great for themselves may make you feel like that is also what you need to be doing, and that you’re failing if you’re not also on a clear path to success. It’s very easy to get caught up in the façade, so if you start to feel that so many people your age seem to be more successful and accomplished remind yourself that social media is a projection of wins and never losses.
Remember that you only ever see on social media what someone is comfortable showing you about their lives. They may be showing you the incredible job they’ve just received at the early age of 25 but not the years of hard work, rejection and tears that went into getting them to that point. Always remind yourself that the successes you see others posting on social media are not at all a reflection of your own journey. Everyone’s path to success is different, don’t convince yourself you’re failing because you’re not following the same path as someone else.
Through taking walks, spending more time with the people in your life and investing more of your time in cultivating hobbies and interests, you might find a shift in attitude. Life is so much more than the path to success you’ve convinced yourself is the only way, and showing yourself that may reveal to you the ways in which you are already amazing and doing really well for yourself. But even if you do use social media, use it with the reminder that many are putting out their wins and not their losses.
3.Change your mindset
Remind yourself that your life’s success will not be determined by this one moment. If it helps, write up a list of all of the things you have accomplished, anything you can think of and you’ll see that you’re doing a lot more than the pressure allows you to see. It’s very easy to just look at life at what you have to do but taking a moment to look at what you have already done may help you calm down and motivate you more. Allow yourself to understand that everything happens in its own time and that rushing success may not always be long-lasting. Ava DuVernay didn’t start directing until her 30s and Stan Lee didn’t create Spiderman until he was nearly 40.
Realise that life is much greater than forcing yourself to work tirelessly work towards success in a future that is uncertain. Don’t allow yourself to lose the present by stressing about the future. Live your life, do your best, but don’t overwork yourself psychically or mentally. You are doing your best, life will work out for you.