In this world, we find ourselves striving for material things, things that can be bought, things that can be studied or achieved. We want the nice house, the pretty clothes, the flash car, the good grades, the top job to fill our bank accounts with money, and the list goes on.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with wanting these things, as most of them are basic needs and wanting our things to be nice or attractive to look at isn’t a crime. However, it becomes a problem when this becomes our main want in life and our desire for these things overtakes our need for happiness, love, inner peace or our own well-being.
We have a tendency to neglect our mental and emotional health, in favour of meeting the standards society has set for us, striving to make the most money we can, or get the best grades we can, or have as many things as we can. I’m guilty of this myself and I’ve been paying the price for it over the years.
I put myself under pressure and unnecessary stress to achieve the best grades possible at GCSE and A-level. I worked myself ragged as I did all I could to get into my dream university. I found myself emotionally drained and mentally tired, giving my all on a university course I hated, in an institution where I never felt comfortable.
Although my grades at GCSE and A-level were good, I got into my dream university and I persevered for two years at that university, it wasn’t worth the emotional and mental turmoil I put myself through. By putting myself on a pedestal and piling on the pressure, I ended up losing myself and a sense of happiness in the process.
My energy dropped, my mood could quickly worsen and I let little things upset me. I found myself easily getting into depressive states, I cried bucket loads of tears and I was self-harming over the years. I was emotionally dying, walking around in a daze and struggling to fall asleep.
Yet through it all, my desire to make others proud wouldn’t allow me to give up. I wanted to make my parents proud, I wanted to make my family proud, I wanted to make my Textiles teacher proud, I wanted to make my tutors proud etc, etc. However, I can’t say that I was making myself proud – all I saw was disappointment after disappointment.
My GCSE grades weren’t good enough for me. I wanted to get all As at A-level, just like my teachers had predicted, not just one A*. I was regressing rather than progressing at university, which depressed me more and more, because I was trying my absolute hardest and spending practically every waking moment on my assignments.
None of this was helping me and my desire to be the best (or perhaps the world’s idea of the best) was covering up the issues within myself. In trying to be the best, I was crying out for acceptance, approval and appreciation.
I wanted my parents to say how proud they were of me and tell me they loved me. I wanted to make something of myself so that people would no longer look down on me or look through me. I wanted to ensure that I wouldn’t be second best anymore.
Looking back on it all, I can see that all I want and all I’ve ever wanted is love, affection, support, care and appreciation from the people around me. I don’t want to feel lonely (despite not being alone) and I don’t want to feel like I’m second best all the time. Yet what I really need is to learn to truly love myself.