How many of us follow the paths that were pointed out to us by society? The things we are told to want; to go to university, to get a well-paid job, to get married, to have a nice car, to have children, etc.
But what do we actually want?
Not knowing what I want has been a huge contributing factor in my mental health problems. I became ill when I was thirteen with depression. I grew up, leaving school to eventually join a college. The people in my life over this period, say the last ten years, I’m twenty two now, were trying to help me be a member of society, via the usual ways, rather than actually getting to the roots of my health problems. Teachers in school and college wanted me to get through exams, the support worker at Connnexions wanted to get me on a training course so I could get a job, my parents wanted me to get a job so I could pay them rent, my boyfriend at the time wanted me to be sexy, and be a trophy on his arm, the job Centre wanted me to get a job so I wouldn’t be on benefits anymore. These were my support network; but at no point did my happiness come into question, because as a society I don’t think we’re taught to be happy.
The childhood football kick abouts, the race to the corner shop to buy an ice lolly on a hot day, bike rides, and dancing and singing along to the Top Forty on the TV fall to the wayside. These are hobbies that remind us to live in the moment, to be present. But we’re lead to believe that they are frivolous, even our guilty pleasures.
During this period it was a relentless drive to find money, to be perfect, to be successful, to be functional. The stress was unbearable.
I was brought up to be a ‘good’ girl. I have always felt obliged to do as I am told. That being top is the only way to be. Perfection is total. I don’t come from an affluent background. My family are undereducated, working class, and wanted for me what they hadn’t had.
My mental health festered as a I have to be good enough mantra. My existence was validated on the approval of others.
A support network is crucial. You cannot be your own best friend at all times, and when we beat ourselves up about something we need our friends. Friends remind us to laugh about a situation. They soften the blow.
We should be honest with ourselves. What is it we want? Once we know we have to align that with how we get there. We have to be honest with our support network and say this is my path.
Look beyond the obvious. If people are telling you it’s not possible figure out how you can make it possible.