We are all our own worst enemies. We self-judge, we set impossible goals and we expect far too much.
I am the worst culprit. My critical eye constantly glares firmly at my every movement; those jeans are too tight, that article is mind numbingly boring, your roots are just offensive. You know the drill.
Most of us can probably pinpoint the moment we stepped out of the blissfully unaware bubble to the self deprecating one. When nothing we do is quite good enough; when we struggle to celebrate our successes, constantly craving more.
For me, it really hit its dizzying heights when I started University. I'd always been harsh on myself, but this is when I started to put myself in unattainable situations. Because I was suddenly in a situation where my mind alone was never going to be good enough (and even that felt feeble compared to the public school educated kids around me); in a split second it was who you know, not what you know.
So I had to push myself. I had to take on internship after placement after work experience after writing project. One after the other, constantly for three years. It was draining; but mainly due to the immense pressure I added on top. If I didn't do them, I would be a failure.
We are only human. We cannot function on a few hours sleep just so we can squeeze in that extra assignment, or that work proposal, or that research for the boss. We cannot live effectively on a diet of seeds and water and we certainly cannot live happily when we can't appreciate our self-worth.
We need to take a step back. Re-assess.
This is something I had to do last night. Even now, going through a period of my life where I am trying to embrace joy and mindfulness, I push too far. I'm working full time hours and then going straight to evening school to learn Italian. Every single weekday. On top of that I am trying to widen my features portfolio, commit more time to my blog and write a book. And let's not forget I'm also trying to explore and adore every minute detail of Italian culture, whilst not trying to get too hung up on my ever increasing weight (cheers Italian cuisine).
Something's got to give. As much as I'd like to be, I am not Superwoman.
It's a vicious cycle. All these little components; they're a ticking time bomb. The pressure, the fatigue, the low self esteem. Tick, tick, tock. It's bound to go off sooner or later.
Can we not just stop for a moment? Can we not try to realise that life is too short for this? Can we not accept that we are great at what we do and what we do is often too much?
I can't sit here and tell everyone to vedge out in bed all day with a big tub of ice cream and every season of Gossip Girl (although sometimes that is needed). What I can say is this; step on the brakes, look in the mirror and say something positive about yourself. Every day.
If you want to go to bed at 10pm rather than wining with your friends, that's totally okay. If you want to eat that extra slice of pizza, that's even better. Too exhausted to write up that article because your day has been so damn long? That's fine, grab a glass of vino and put on your pyjamas. You've earnt it.
I see too many people (me included) making themselves ill through not being kind enough to themselves. It's time we made a change.
Listen to your mind and listen to your body. If it's telling you to stop, then stop. If it's telling you to eat more sugar, eat it.
We live in a fast paced world full of deadlines, ridiculous body images and financial woes. For once, let's just take a deep breath and clear our mind of it all. Make yourself the priority.
Read more of Amber's work at Buttercup Belle.