Copy of the #TheSafeSpace Column published in the Times Of Swaziland on Wednesday the 17th of February 2016:
In our modern world, one cannot even begin to detail all the pressure that acts on young people every single day. Young men are under immense pressure to be the big boss in a room, to be the breadwinner and have a wide range of assets with a beautiful woman always at his side. Young women are constantly under pressure to ALWAYS look beautiful, find their soulmate, have children, rise above expectation and be empowered in various ways. Since I am generalizing, it is very possible that young men and women have differing pressures to those mentioned above but it doesn’t change that fact that they are consistently bombarded with messages or visuals of what success should be. In as much as this pressure to be something or someone has inspired young people to turn their lives around, for some it is a constant source of anguish, envy, depression and pain. Allow me to explain why.
First of all, we are all bound by the same rules of time but we don’t experience life in the same ways. That might seem like an obvious statement but in reality it is not so obvious to some. In many ways, the world has set milestones for certain points in life and many feel like failures when they don’t achieve them. ‘By 18, you have to be done with high school and move to university’, ‘At 25 you should be working, getting paid real good’, ‘In your 30s you should be happily married, a boss, commanding legions of employees and recording killer profits’, ‘In your 40s, life begins and you start reaping all the hard work, travelling the world and gracing the cover of Forbes’. The truth is, this might be a timeline of someone’s life, but it is certainly not the manifesto on which success or failure is derived from. In case you have not noticed, the path through life is incredibly diverse and the slightest decision you make (or a decision made for you) can send you in a totally different direction. Depending on the decision, this can be a positive or negative direction.
In short, nothing is cast in stone, dear young person. Don’t scroll through Instagram and feel depressed or envious that your high school classmate is now flexing out in Dubai. Don’t spend sleepless nights wondering how someone you think is not qualified got the job of your dreams. That’s not for you to ponder on. Your role in life is to constantly seek improvement without hating on others or using another person’s life timeline as a benchmark. Learn to genuinely acknowledge other people’s achievements without a shred of envy. You are you and they are them, simple and straight forward.
Now, for all those who might say, ‘Whatever Chris, all this talk is easier said than done’, would be absolutely correct. If one is used to the thought pattern we have discussed today, successfully building a new mind-set is not a walk in the park. As the famous idiom says, ‘Old habits die hard’. The idiom doesn’t say, old habits don’t die at all. It merely reaffirms that a certain element of hard work is needed to positively shift one’s mind-set. Give it try, take some of that energy that you put into building your dreams and invest it into shifting your mind-set. In your own time, the result will be breath-taking.
Feel free to share your comments with me through Twitter (@chr1sfleming), blog (www.chr1sfleming.wordpress.com) or email (email@example.com. Until we meet again, goodbye.