Ever get the feeling like you always have to do well? The pressure to succeed can feel overwhelming, but here’s why you should give yourself a break.
As students, we often feel like we’re always under pressure to do well. Whether its your friends, your family or your lecturers, there’s always someone telling you to ‘be better’ or ‘try harder’. Trying your best is apparently no longer an option.
But put too much pressure on yourself and your mental health is probably going to suffer- the stress can sometimes make it hard to cope. Here’s how to put yourself (not your grades) first:
When we have a lot going on, it’s really easy to put our own needs in the background. I definitely used to be guilty of this one: Three assignments due next week, brunch with my mum in the morning, haven’t had a full night’s sleep in weeks and you want me to go out tonight? Yeah sure why not, God forbid you think I was boring or something. Its not sustainable. These days I’m making a conscious effort to only do as much as I want to. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with doing all those things other people want you to do, but its also okay to spend a day catching up on work, or trade your heels for fluffy socks and be in bed by 9 pm.
Seriously, this needs to stop. Not only does it create (unnecessary) tension between friends, but its not fair to you either. Just because your friend got a first and you got a 2:1 it doesn’t make you any less capable, it just means she happened to enjoy that module you took together more. Other people’s successes are not the absence of your own, and the only person you should be comparing yourself to is you.
Remember that there’s no rush
You’re still young. There’s nothing wrong with you if you don’t have everything perfectly figured out just yet. In fact, I’d be more worried if you did. You’re probably not going to get a 75 in every assignment you submit, you won’t always get the first job you apply to and (sorry to break this to you) you’re probably not going to be a world famous pop star… well, at least not straight away.
But the thing is: no one is expecting you to. Its’ perfectly okay to go at your own speed, and arrive at your destination when you’re meant to.
Again, I’m as guilty as anyone. I’m writing this blog when I should be cooking a decent dinner, having been sat at a desk all day desperately trying to finish all of my six assignments in one go. You don’t need me to tell you that its not fun. But it doesn’t work either. Eventually you’ll burnout and crash (I can feel a cold coming on already) and then you wont be productive at all. As is the case with everything, its best to do things in moderation, and don’t forget to get up, have a break and just breathe.
Lose the expectations
If you walk into an exam expecting a First and come out with a 2:1 , you’re obviously going to be disappointed. But the thing about a 2:1 is that its still a really good grade, you just forgot that part because you were too busy expecting more. No one’s telling you you won’t get that First, but its always better to enter things with an open mind. Aim high, but don’t worry if you don’t hit the jackpot on your first try.
Be gentle with yourself
Sometimes we really can be our own harshest critics. The pressure to succeed can be overwhelming, but the fallout if we don’t is crushing. We all know what it feels like to be disappointed in ourselves, or to be angry over a missed opportunity or just want to get where we’re going now. But it’s important to remember that you’ll get there one day, and in the meantime its perfectly okay to just try your best – it really is enough.