Dealing With Pressure
I had to isolate with the dreaded ‘rona last week. And it was honeslt yvery mild and not much of an issue. I just had to find ways to fill my time. Every person I had conversations with within this time has relayed some version of the same well-meaning remark – “sure you’ll have plenty of time for writing.” The dream for any creative who wishes to have more time to work.
The problem is I haven’t written a damn thing.
My head is filled with distraction and anxiety, for one thing. But most of all it’s the pressure to write – the pressure to be productive – which is causing this creative slump. Each time I’ve sat down to write I’ve found something else to focus on – or to not focus on. And the less I write the more pressure I feel to write. It’s like a self-fulfilling lope. With each minute not writing only adding to the weighty realization that I am in fact, not writing.
Pressure can be difficult to pinpoint, and to navigate. It isn’t exclusive to writing, of course, as we all feel pressure at some point. And because I cannot find anything to write about, and because I am feeling pressure, it makes sense to address this topic here.
I’ve addressed the idea of productivity anxiety here before, which of course results from the modern pressure to be productive with our time constantly, and within the limited and ultimately capitalist definition of productivity. However, pressure is far more expansive than mere productivity and in many ways pressure emerges due to an ego drive in the realm of social media.
I’ve always been quite open here, and often I will attempt to address topics that are usually left unaddressed because of their less than flattering nature. The truth of the matter is many of us (myself included at times) feel pressure to be seen, to be relevant, and to be liked on social media. There is an underlying pressure for those of us who rung pages and blogs and businesses to constantly be posting. To constantly be talking about what is topical, and to be scoring high in terms of relevance and popularity. This pressure is rarely addressed because nobody likes to admit it about themselves, but by God is it there.
This pressure doesn’t have to be a bad thing if it’s managed properly, but it rarely is. Often places that were once supportive and encouraging become competitive and bitter. We see this all of the time. Individuals in mental health spaces regularly do not support one another because of this desire to be on top – to be ‘the sole voice’ that is relevant to mental health.
Stop for a moment and consider how backwards that is.
It doesn’t just happen in mental health circles either. Creatives are reluctant to support one another often too, because they feel this sort of pressure to be relevant. Many believe that supporting your fellow creatives, writers and artists will somehow take away from their own art. However this has never proven true. We’ve gotten to a point with social media where there’s an overwhelming attitude that people farther ahead have to be dragged down rather than people lower down on the ladder being pulled up. And this all stems from a pressure to be seen and to be relevant.
The main problem here is that, many of this don’t recognise the subtle pressures we’re feeling. But you’re feeling this pressure every time there is a trend or a topic or a National Day and you feel like you must post something. Because if you don’t, then you aren’t being heard or seen. All of this results from this toxic dependency on creation that social media culture has cultivated within our collective psyche. Because many of externalise our sense of value, we feel that the only way to be fulfilled in our lives is to be validated and adored by as many people as possible.
Pressure can be hard to deal with. Developing a healthy relationship with it, as well as navigating social media in a positive way can be more than tricky. But like everything else, it begins with awareness.
Becoming aware of the fact that you are feeling pressure to begin with is the starting point. Then you must look inward and honestly ask yourself why you feel the pressure. It’s not easy because often enough you won’t like the answer. Whenever I find myself posting too much on social media, I know it’s because I want to be validated. That’s never an easy thing to hear about yourself. But the only way to work through it is to be honest about the motivations for our actions rather than telling ourselves lies in order to make the medicine go down easier.
So I’ll leave you with this question: Are you honest with yourself about your intentions?