Pressure and Generation-Y go together just like lamb and tuna fish (if you’ve seen “Big Daddy” before, you will get the joke; if not, watch it on your friend’s Netflix account, you won't regret it). Pressure is something that we all go through at different points in our lives and it’s something that helps you develop through time.
If you think about it, when you were young, there wasn't much pressure or responsibility and life kind of coasted by until you reached your teenage years, when you thought having to deal with acne, fitting in and passing your SATs were real problems. Ha, those were the good old days.
Then, of course, you reach adulthood where you are forced to make decisions that will ultimately stick with you for the next few years to come: like which college you are going to attend, what you are going to study, and how well prepared you are going to be for the real world. The pressure builds up in your life, as if time is working against you or making things harder.
After college, you face the reality of the cold world out there and all that matters is making sure your rent is paid and that you have food to eat. Being on your own and being an adult, having to support yourself, is the most pressure that this "spoon-fed" generation will face. And they will have a rude awakening when they realize the real world isn't all the glitz and glamor they thought it would be.
Pressure is just as much a part of life as anything else, it is something that drives us each and every single day to achieve more, to do greater things and to be better, ultimately for ourselves. The simple fact is that pressure comes at us from a million different angles. During your 20s, you are probably faced with the most amount of pressure, as this is the pivotal point of your life; the decisions you make today will last with you for tomorrow and beyond.
A great mentor of mine once told me that in college you only learn two things: time management and how to deal with pressure and responsibility, as the two go hand in hand. It makes sense, as these two aspects are essential for your life once you are on your own -- no syllabus in hand or guide, trying to figure out life for yourself -- and these two functions that we are supposed to absorb are supposed to prepare us for what is to come, and that is handling our lives within our 20s.
All people have different types of pressure that influence their lives and their decisions. I remember the first time I was under pressure, it was during finals week and my time management skills weren’t at their best, as I was, of course, leaving everything to the last minute to get done. Trying to teach myself 21 credits in one short night with overpriced Adderall, red bulls, coffee and my friend who I invited over to study together (because I thought he would have more insight than I did and would be able to guide me, the best part about it is that he was just as lost as I was and depending on me for the same thing).
We were both screwed. Fortunately, unlike many people, I perform best under pressure, I actually thrive on it more than anything else, as it gives me a rush unlike any other and it’s when I am really at my best. I finished the semester with a 2.75 GPA, learning it in just one night -- who said that’s impossible?
What I learned in life is that it’s not the pressure that you are presented with, but rather how you decide to deal with that pressure and channel it. You see people cope with it on completely different levels and by completely different methods. Michael Jordan, a man that probably felt more pressure than most athletes out there (having to take the final shot multiple times with his team counting on him) once said “I've missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
One of Michael’s ways of dealing with pressure was by looking at it straight in the face. Staring it down and proving that there is nothing too big or too heavy to fear. He wasn't afraid of the outcome, but more so focused on how he was going to surpass it rather than thinking about it. I personally think taking a pressure lesson from one of the greatest athletes ever to play sports wouldn't be too bad of an idea. If you look around society today and you look at the way people deal with pressure situations, instead of looking them dead on and facing them, people would rather hide and let someone else deal with it or hope their problems will just drift away.
The truth of the matter is that pressure makes people who they are. It is how they decide and manage to deal with issues and problems that builds their character and turns them into leaders or superior beings amongst the human population. If you look closely at Darwin’s theory of the survival of the fittest, it clearly favors those who can deal with the pressures that life imposes on them.
A great friend of mine once shared a great thought when I felt like the weight of the world was on my shoulders -- which is a feeling I enjoy because that is when I am at my best because instead of backing down from it, giving up, thinking it’s impossible or too hard, I embrace it and tackle it full force, just like Jordan did every game winning shot, and just like you need to anytime you are dealing with something.
The thought he bestowed on me was that quite simply, "If you put enough pressure on a piece of coal, then what do you ultimately get? The simple answer to that question is a diamond." Of course, you have those pieces of coal that just crumble and turn into dust, but that is because they can't handle the pressure imposed on them, but then there are those that fight through it. If you look at the way we as people view pressure, it is not much different, we are all just pieces of coal starting out, through time we develop into something more. There are those who crack and turn into nothing and then there are those that become diamonds in the rough -- and that is simply life.
Sure, you might look at it as just a silly metaphor, but it’s true. If you look at some of the most successful people of our time, the one quality that is universal amongst all of them is knowing how to deal with pressure situations and creating an outcome that is in their favor, not in the favor of the eye of the person that deems it impossible.
The way you need to view pressure is actually as something positive; look at it as a chance, the world telling you that it’s your time to prove yourself and what you are really about. Sure, it may not seem fun feeling like you have the weight of the world on your shoulders and your back against the wall, but if these aspects were missing from life, we would all just be robots and one in the same.
You, just like everyone on this planet, will encounter different types and amounts of pressure. I have personally seen people so afraid to deal with anything that seemed too big to handle that they just ran away from it. And then I have seen a small amount of people face it and propel themselves past it by simply finding a way.
The last thing to remember is that life is a game of cards; each one of us is dealt a hand. No one remembers the person who folds, we only remember the person who manages to turn two 6s into a winning hand. Embrace pressure, take in change and keep your head up because you will either be a piece of broken coal like the rest of them or a diamond.
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