The Importance Of Living A Life Which Is Directed By You

In modern society, as individuals, we tend to be heavily influenced in various ways. Whether it be through social media, friends and/or family or maybe it is the stigmas which are attached to mental health. Whichever reason it may be, it is easy to get caught up into the idea of living a life to satisfy or please others and inevitably, it may result in damaging consequences for your sense of self. Hence, it is important to live a life which is directed by you.



Photo by Tim Brownson via A Daring Adventure



Social Media Influences


Photo by Ross Quintana via Social Magnets

In the world we live in today, social media has contributed to a large proportion of our digital world. Interestingly, according to Backlinko, as of 2020, there are 3.96 billion people in the world who actively use social media. It has become the norm to live, breathe and invest our time in social media with an aim stay connected with the world. Although, it is apparent that many of us tend to have different intentions behind our social media usage. It could be to stay updated with current trends, participate in social causes, or to create a fake user account to catfish your ex-boyfriend or girlfriend. Intentionality matters, especially if social media is used a tool to degrade, penalise or tarnish an individual who you perceive in a particular light. However, this is not to say that social media is purely a negative concept, because it isn’t! I for one, use and appreciate the platforms that we have access to and are able to use positively.

As our passion for social media grows, our need to delve into the role of an outsider looking in grows as well. Essentially, as mentioned on Child Mind Institute, social media is a place where individuals define themselves by creating and maintaining their image of who they are and what they stand for. Thus, creating a gap where individuals tend to constantly compare their lives to others. If this person is my age, how are they able to afford this car or put down a deposit for this house in this area? Or why does that person never seem to fail at anything and always succeed, is there something wrong with me? It is these questions which are raised and will go over and over in someone’s mind trying to figure out where they went wrong or why what they are doing is not working. Umi Digital discusses how this feeling is intensified as on social media, we tend to share the positives or highlights of our lives, rather than the negatives and this builds on the existing insecurities that may have developed.  It is the constant feeling of missing out and seeing others have ‘fun’ and ‘interesting’ lives. Still, one fact remains and that it is as individuals, we may sometimes disregard our uniqueness. We each have our own dreams, ambitions, and aspirations which will not align with everyone else, especially in relation to timing. The journey in which we navigate through life to reach our true potential is a rollercoaster with bumps that represent losses and wins, and this is completely normal. It is time to divert your focus away from your perceptions of how someone else is living and focus on what your heart truly desires.

Pressure From Loved Ones

Photo by Aarya Sinha via The Jakarta Post

I am sure a lot of people can agree with me when I say that family is an everlasting bond with loved ones that contributes to our portrayal of love. No matter how dysfunctional families can be, many of us have a family (blood related or not) that we deeply love and care about. It is this caring nature that is within us, that allows us to become consumed with the thoughts and feelings that our loved ones hold. This is also true for our friends as the two mostly co-exist together. Often, as we grow up, a prerequisite for our futures is predetermined. This could be in the sense of careers, romantic relationships and/or individual characteristics. According to The Jarkata Post, an article by Aarya Sinha explains that our family is in a position where they can easy influence our choices, which results in an innate reaction to try to please and satisfy their wants and expectations. Now, this does not always have to be a bad thing, as generally, our loved ones want what is best for us. The intention is genuine, and this why I mentioned that intentionality matters. It sets the pace for how we perceive things and our actions moving forward.

Let me tell you a story about what I learned about the pressures of family. After I finished college, I took a year out to work before I went to university. This was a choice that already raised questions as to why I would make this decision. Nonetheless, I stuck to it, and it was the best thing I could have done. I was able to gain real world experience and develop a set of skills that I would not have otherwise done if I had gone to university straightaway. But this isn’t the story. After that year, I went to university to study Mental Health Nursing, a course that I was not originally supposed to study but decided that it seemed the better option. After 2-3 months, it was noticeably clear to me that I did not enjoy the course. I had already gone to university a year later and now I was not even a year into a course which I did not like. Eventually, I made the decision to leave and look for other courses that I was interested in. I was able to apply to a different university for a course that I knew I would enjoy, and I was accepted. This meant that I would start university a year later. During this time, I found a job that I thoroughly liked that was also related to the course that I was going to study the same year. Just like the first time, this job gave me invaluable experience that I would not have otherwise gotten. In this scenario, as you can imagine, it was difficult to determine what I was going to do. My mother did not want me to leave the course, mostly because she was proud of me for studying nursing, a career that she had before me. If I were not strong minded, I would not have developed the skills gained from my first and second job, and I would have continued to study a course that I did not enjoy which could have had adverse effects. I am sure that this story is self-explanatory and showcases the importance of making choices and decisions that will ultimately reflect your passions, thus this is why living for yourself and only yourself is a must!

Mental Health & Wellbeing

Photo by Nicole Squires via People Based Solutions

This topic slightly differs from the previous two in terms of the influences in our lives. But rather, it seeks to justify the importance of how we nurture our wellbeing, and the consequences if this is not done. As mentioned above, there are several influences in our lives, and if we live to a standard which is purely to fulfil the desires of others, it will have an impact on our mental and emotional wellbeing. Consequently, these actions can lead to stress, sleep deprivation, excessive worrying and even withdrawal from friends and family. If we ignore these important signs and symptoms, they will inevitably worsen which will result in a need to seek professional help.

In our community, the topic of mental health can be one that is stigmatised. To explain this, the charity Mind suggest that this could be due to individuals not understanding mental health conditions or having misconceptions about certain diagnoses and the behaviours which occur as part of it. It is particularly difficult if those around you have not been exposed to mental health illnesses and cannot seem to recognise the importance of treatment. In many situations, a family’s culture and heritage plays a role in this stigmatisation which in itself, may prohibit someone from receiving the help they need. Therefore, it is essential that we keep raising awareness on the topic of mental and emotional health and why it must be at the forefront of our how we live our lives.  

For me, I believe that autonomy is a strength that we should all possess. It will guide and navigate us throughout our lives, which is something that might be daunting to some, as you may not trust all the time that the decisions we are making are the right ones, but it is that fear that pushes us further. I like to apply this to having control of our lives, and this largely includes our mental health and thinking about what negatively effects this. Whether it is through social media, or family pressures or just feeling ‘stuck’ in life. Once you have thought about it, you will have the power to change it and that cannot be taken away from you!

A photo by Marcelina Hardy via Newswire

Throughout this article, I have reiterated the significance of putting ourselves first, in whichever context there is. Why live a life which is influenced by others? Consider the greatness you can achieve when you let go of the perceptions, thoughts, feelings, and opinions of others and focus on what is best for you.

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