I’ve been thinking about mental health and how our ideas about ‘conformity’ add to the problem.

I’ve made no secret of the depression, stress and anxiety in my past – it forms part of my backstory and I use the lessons I learned to help and inspire others today.

It’s my belief that some of the pressure we feel – and internalise – comes from an expectation to ‘conform’. The more we try to quash who we are and become who we *think* the world wants us to be, the more we’ll struggle.

Whether it’s pressure to ‘perform’ (exams, qualifications, career, wealth, religion, relationships etc), or to look/behave a certain way, the more we try to box ourselves in, the more we crush our spirit.

My childhood was good and I loved my parents – they loved me too.

Nobody tried to push me to become a brain surgeon or anything.

I was raised C of E and I *should* have ended up with a nice young man and 2.4 kids.

For a long time, I felt I was ‘failing’ by not being attracted to fellas and it didn’t feel ‘easy’ to go against the grain and not identify as ‘Christian’ either.

Don’t get me wrong here: I see myself as deeply spiritual – I’m just not a big fan of the way mankind sometimes interprets religion and the doctrine that leaves so many feeling trapped and ‘less than’.

For me, personal choice, whilst holding onto integrity, compassion and a connection to all that is, rocks. That said, I absolutely respect every individual’s right to follow whatever spiritual/religious path they choose, and I would defend that right with every fibre of my being.

What else didn’t quite ‘fit’ for me? Well, I’m not sure some of my career development choices were immediately understood, though I do know that I was loved and supported at all times.

I see others having a much tougher time. Parents creating education and career progression paths while the kids are still in utero. Humans coming into the world with the future already mapped out, regardless of whether those choices might make their hearts sing – or sink.

I see people filled with misery because they’re trying to live out a life that just isn’t theirs.

Isn’t it time we stopped trying to steer our kids onto paths that don’t fill them up?

Isn’t it time we stopped trying to be the adults our parents / peers moulded us to be and started being truer to our own hopes and dreams?

We DO have a responsibility to ourselves, perhaps even before our society, don’t we?

What do you think? Do we need to break some boxes?

Looking back, I know that I wasn’t truly able to find my own path – and happiness – until I smashed some of mine.

Until next time,