Life can feel full of pressure sometimes. Especially when we’re trying to figure out who we are, what we want, and how we want our lives to be.
Young people who come to Jigsaw often talk to us about pressure they’re feeling. Some of the things going on for them include, pressure about:
- Fitting in. Having to change who they in order to be included in a group.
- Supporting friends. Feeling they have to respond to friends’ difficulties, even when it interferes with their own wellbeing.
- Conforming with an education system that feels unfair and out of line with everything else in their life.
- Performing well in exams. Comparing results and achievements.
- Competing and doing well in sports or other hobbies. This can be to the point where they no longer enjoy it.
- Future plans and feeling that you should know what career path to choose.
- Living up to the expectations of parents. or to match the achievements of siblings etc.
Where does this pressure come from?
There are many reasons to feel pressurised or under the spotlight. Everyone experiences that sometimes, to a greater or lesser extent.
The expectation to live up to siblings or friends’ achievements that can come from parents and teachers can weigh on us. But we can also feel it from our friends when we compare grades and achievements.
Many of us are led to believe our achievements, such as in exams or sports, are what make us valuable as people from an early age. Even our parents can sometimes be fooled by this. They can think they need to push you to achieve for you to be happy.
Feeling pressure to fit in
Fitting into a very rigid system like school can be difficult, especially if it’s not important to us. We may feel we’re not getting anything from it, or feel we’re not respected or understood within that system. It can be even tougher if we’ve experienced trauma, or if our home life isn’t as structured or stable as other people’s.
School and competition is not for everyone. There’s a risk that we lose the joy of sport or our hobbies by pushing ourselves to achieve at all cost or by making life all about that achievement.
In our friendships, we can often think that selfless giving of support is a part of life. We can sometimes feel the pressure of having full responsibility for our friends’ happiness and wellbeing. When really, we’re only just one small part of that.
Supporting others doesn’t have to be damaging to our own mental health. Establishing boundaries in friendship is important, for you and your friends. Read more about how best to support your friends.