(Original is here; Photo by Jaime Chung)
Tests. Writing. School. Work. Competitions. Bets. Teenage Life.
What do all these have in common?
It seems like pressure is the dominant force driving things these days. People mill about, pressured about getting to work on time, or risk losing their job. Kids run around, pressured about social life, education, internal issues. It's like a velvet mat, cradling a glass ball, or the fragile world that is the human race, as if any second we might snap to pieces if it weren't there to hold us together.
Pressure: to force (someone) toward a particular end; influence
Now, let's say you're a procrastinator. Without the pressure of your parents and teacher, you'd be more than glad to crumple up that piece of homework and start a paper fight with it. So, in this case, because homework helps your education, which greatly influences your future, pressure is a good thing. Applied to work, perhaps, and homework. And things (ugly or not) that you need to get done, even if you don't want to.
Then there's the not-so-secret side of pressure that tends to get frowned upon. The pressure to be perfect, to fit in, to thrive and rise in a world of many others, who could very much possibly have a higher caliber than you at what you are attempting.
Always keep this quote in mind, even if I said it, and I'm not a famous person. "Do not believe in perfection; believe in perception." Perfection doesn't exist. In fact, it rhymes with defection. Just work to do your best, and don't stress yourself with it.
Since this is a literary blog, I'll use writing as an example.
There are many, many, many teenage aspiring writers out there today. And it's not entirely out of pure love for literacy. Greed, perhaps, but not necessarily for money. If you think about it, this could be greed or salvation (or so they think) to prove oneself, become popular, or just to toot one's own horn. But most of all, underneath every layer of excuse or truth, it's pressure.
Pressure to be someone better than you are right now.
People tend to follow trends. Becoming successful is a trend now, especially after the Young Adult genre became such a big hit after The Hunger Games. People are naturally competitive, and when more and more of their peers start writing, their instinctual, almost feral side tells them, do this, too! It's great to chase after what you want, dream or not, chimerical or not.
But here's the catch:
Don't let the pressure overcook you. Snag at every corner of your mind, forcing a tug-of-war battle inside of your conscience. Like author Jeri Smith-Ready (amazing woman, by the way) says, "I think it's really important for everyone who wants to be a writer to be something else first. Because, if you don't get out and experience the world, then you're not going to have anything to write about." Life is too short to be wasted. Go out there and do what you love, but by the end of the day, don't feel like you are forced to write. You're not. Just because you're not a writer doesn't mean people won't like you. Just because you can't finish a story doesn't mean you're incompetent. Just because you can't write like the pros doesn't make you someone to be frowned upon.
But if you do what you love, follow your dreams, and make wise decisions--if you take advantage of pressure, instead of letting pressure take over you--that will make you someone to admire.
That, in the end, is how you achieve what you want to achieve. Popular or not. Successful or not. Award-winning or not. Stand up for your beliefs, gently but firmly. Intensely but understandably.
Be the boss of pressure; Only you know what you're capable of, and where you belong.