Living Up To Expectations During The Holidays

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Having a good job, money, and nice things really help our social status, but do they help our souls?

I hear this all too often in my office. I see it all too often. Stress, anxiety, worry, fear, guilt and depression due to money, responsibilities, obligations and fear....of losing the job, but not having the motivation to do a good job, of not being able to provide for the family, of looking like a slacker, or failure in front of friends and family, of holding up social appearances, keeping up with societal expectations and pressures, whether it be money, marriage, work or family.

The need to uphold to social standards has always been a big drive and motivator in humanity. In this time and in this economy, people are more stuck than ever doing jobs they'd rather not be doing, to support their families and maintain their lifestyles, and it's not that easy these days. Feeling stuck at a job can lead to feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. 5 Ways To Make Your Marriage More Important Than Money

With this, more and more people are turning to anti-depressants, which have become more and more readily available in our society. People need to keep going even if that means to continue to simply exist at their ho humdrum 9-5 job which pays the bills, gives them a certain social status, and allows them to feel and even receive the social acceptance they need so bad.

Anti-depressants are a means to an end. Perhaps they allow us to stay in a situation, or accept a situation which otherwise may not be our preference, if we were to really look at what our hearts desire. So many people live in fear of being abandoned, in fear of being ostracized by friends and family, and alienated by society as a whole. This is why marriage upholds so well, and is so desirable in our culture.

We want to feel safe and secure so we look hard and try to find the partner that fits the puzzle. We also want friends. Being married may help our social status. Having a good job, money, and nice things really helps our social status, and makes us revered, coveted, and well-accepted. Having these things makes us look normal. And everyone likes normal. What A Year In Marriage Taught Us About Love

It's the acceptance in the end that makes life all the easier for us. Let's face it, it's not easy living on the fringe. We don't get a lot of support from the upper echelons of society when we look unemployed, poor, unmarried, and even single

I know. I can say this. As a writer and a musician, I have been there, oscillating back and forth between making a decent living and being true to my artist spirit. And in many ways I am still there. As a homeowner, and a divorcee, it's easy to see where I have myself been beholden to a slew of societal rules.

I worry about defaulting on my bills because it will effect my credit, so I keep working as hard as I do to pay the bills, but in the end, many days go by where I could be writing and playing music (my passions), but instead I am exhausted from working. 6 Tips for Living Authentically

I am on a constant journey to find balance and try oh so very hard to write on a regular basis and to continue to play music either alone or in the band, because at the end of the day, I am keenly aware that these social standards don't always feed our souls whereas writing and music do.

The house doesn't feed my soul except that it's nice to have a roof over my head. I need that roof. I chose to buy my house for personal reasons, but I can say that some of those reasons were definitely societally driven. I was once married. Again, driven by a desire to make my parents happy, to be accepted, to fit in.

I say I was in love, but enough to get married? I'd say no today. But then again, I am not a huge believer in the institution of marriage, per se, although I do believe in monogamous partnerships and long term relationships, but do I need to be married, a piece of paper that says I am married, to express my love for someone? Not necessarily3 Signs He's Not The Marrying Kind

These are just examples of how I experince the social conundrum. So, in the end I am always wondering....are these societal standards really worth all the stress? Especially if society thinks we should just take a pill to go on numbly doing what doesn't truly resonate with us, so I can only imagine that many others must be feeling the same way.

And I know others feel similar levels of discontent. Day in and day you come into my office, stressed out and unhappy at your jobs, in your relationships, and in certain situations where many of you feel plain stuck. You got there, just like I did because of a need, a desire driven by not just societal pressures, but a personal need to fit in, to be accepted, to be happy. Yes, even as adults we are vulnerable to peer pressure. Call it what you will. If it looks like a duck and walks like a duck, it is a duck. It's hard to leave a long term relationship or job even though it may not feel fulfilling to your soul.

During the holidays, these societal expectations become all the more pronounced. Family, work, and social obligations have a tendency to rule the roost during this time. Sure, it's a nice time to let others know you appreciate them the rest of the year, by sending out cards, buying them gifts, or even a quick text message, because knowing yourself and your limits is important too. 7 Inexpensive Holiday Gift Ideas

Worrying about hurting someone's feelings, doing something because "it's tradition," or "this is what we do every year," or fearing that someone may judge you, or worse yet, talk behind your back or disown you are sure fire ways to committing yourself to doing things out of obligation especially during the holidays.

The downside is there will be little satisfaction in it and is likely to create frustration instead, especially if you over commit. The holidays are a time when we often have to face the reality of our lives. We may have to spend a little time with the family, catch up with old friends, buy gifts for the co-workers, etc. All of this can feel a lot like obligation. It would be a lot more fun if we could just do this when and if we wanted to, on a whim, not because we are supposed to because it's the holidays, but just as a random act of kindness.

So, my suggestion is this:

If you have a multitude of obligations and have little time for yourself, and find yourself being consumed by what others want, take a moment out of your day this week, before the holidays take over completely, and make a list of the things you want to do, and would like to do this holiday season.

List who you would like to see and who you'd like to spend time with and reach out to. List who you want to buy gifts for. And then prioritize this list.What do you have time for? What do you have money for? Be realistic.

Then pare this list down just a tiny bit more if it's too long. Remember the holidays are a time of fun. Not stress. Not giving, not receiving, but for enjoying. Don't feel bad about wanting to spend time alone. Don't feel bad for ducking out of the work party or the family dinner early. 10 Ways To Have A Loving Holiday Season

It's important that you take care of yourself. Just be honest, and authentic. Sure, people may get mad, upset, hurt, but taking care of yourself is key to being authentic and genuine with others. Do what you have time for and don't fret the rest. Just remember, there are 12 months in the year when you can make it up to those who get sad, upset or hurt ... That is, if you really want to.

And the other stuff, well, do what you truly love. It's important to find your passion, your drive, your motivation. Find out what you are passionate about and do it, not because it means anything to anyone but you. See if you can do that first, before popping what I call the last resort pill, the anti-depressant. I truly believe that if you do what you love, then you will have no choice but to be successful at it. Doesn't that sound better than being mediocre at a hum drum job?