Pressure pushing down on me
Pressing down on you, no man ask for
Under pressure that burns a building down
Splits a family in two
Puts people on streets
I used to think I thrived under pressure. Give me a deadline to meet, a challenge of sorts, and I’ll handle it. I’d look road-weary, torn up, exhausted when I was done, hair askew, bags under my eyes, and my wits held together only by a tight thread, but it would be done.
Over the weekend, I embraced this thinking again. A deadline I’d already missed, extended (thank gawd), and I told myself, “Maybe I should just embrace my need for outside pressure to get things done.”
And I think some pressure is good. Knowing I have bills to pay is a good reason to do work I don’t always love. Believing that the goal (however far into the future it may be) will be worth the tedious work of today keeps me going when I want to give up.
But I know I put myself under too much pressure more often than not.
It’s the terror of knowing what the world is about
Watching some good friends screaming
“Let me out!”
Pray tomorrow gets me higher
Pressure on people, people on streets
For the first time…ever, I think, though I’d have to go back and check…I didn’t publish a Masturbation Monday blog post on Monday or Tuesday. (Today is Wednesday.) The good thing about being the creator of a meme is that you can link up well past the deadline. But knowing this only made me feel slightly better. It also made me feel like I was cheating or a justification for getting away with something.
Especially after I saw a Twitter conversation between friends (and mentors) Molly Moore and Marie Rebelle talking about having never missed specific memes. In that moment, I felt (self-imposed) pressure to never miss my own…and guilt because I miss everyone else’s so often. And I wondered what would happen if I ever missed Masturbation Monday.
The Universe gave me the answer the very next day. Too sick to work, too sick to blog, and definitely too sick to give a damn.
Well, now I know.
The world keeps spinning, and you can always catch up later or slip it in (pardon the pun) or whatever. My feelings of pressure are my own. Silly though they may be.
And yet, I also believe great things can be forged under pressure. My childhood was not an awful one but there are parts that make my own therapist cringe. (Which can’t be good since he’s supposed to be mostly neutral.) Pressure applied from my parents that I internalized, added to my own sense of perfection, and made my own.
But when someone says, “I don’t know how you do it all” I know exactly how.
The pressure I felt as a kid turned into a work ethic I’m proud of. I like that I can (usually) keep going — because it matters to me. I like that when I want something bad enough, I might feel the fear (don’t we all?) but I keep going (usually). Because the pressure of “What if?” and “Can I?” and “I think I can” matter to me.
In my family, we look at the crap we’ve gone through — and everyone goes through their own crap — and say, “We wouldn’t be the people we are today without what happened back then.” Maybe it’s how we live with and justify bad memories. Maybe it’s a healthy way to view the world. Fuck if I know, but it’s how I see things for myself. (No, I don’t think everyone should view the world this way.)
So even as I lament a childhood with too much pressure and too little affection, I know I wouldn’t be the person I am today without everything from my past. Even the things I wish had been different.
Chipping around, kick my brains around the floor
These are the days it never rains but it pours
That being said, pressure scares me. No, to be fair, the anxiety that pressure creates scares me. The only time I doubt my abilities is when anxiety gets me in its teeth and gnaws on my head like gristle.
It’s in those moments when I wonder if I can handle the pressure, if this is the time when I’ll crack. And I wonder what it says about me when I can’t stand up under the pressure.
Fuck you, anxiety.
A bad (very bad) cold reminded me that most of the pressure I feel is of my own making. That very few people are paying as much attention to what I’m doing as I am. That I can take off this pressure whenever I really need to.
Anxiety tells me that I have no choices and I’m not good enough. Pressure tells me I have no choices other than to keep going.
So what’s the point?
Nothing much, I guess. I feel strangely light after two days of sleeping and taking care of myself. I also realize that I can and will get things done, but I don’t have to be Wonder Woman about it. No one but me expects it anyway. I’d venture a guess that John Brownstone feels a little bit better when I show how human I really am — although he definitely doesn’t want me to get sick.
I may never feel like I’m good enough or that I do enough, but I think that’s how most creative types feel. And I may never completely let go of my self-imposed pressure, partly because it’s a damn good motivator. But maybe, just maybe, I can be kinder to myself and more realistic about what I really need to do.
‘Cause love’s such an old fashioned word
And love dares you to care for
The people on the edge of the night
And love (people on streets) dares you to change our way of
Caring about ourselves
This is our last dance
This is our last dance
This is ourselves under pressure
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