World Mental Health Day

There is a huge amount of pressure in todays world, on the weekend I drove past a sign talking about how important a child’s 11+ exams are, when I was 11 I was more interested in building dams in the stream by my parents house or playing cops and robbers with my brother. I have a 3 year old and literally all of the child tv adverts are geared towards making children feel that they must have the toy being promoted and only then will they be as happy as the children in the adverts. I run my own startup and the pressure on being a success is massive. I run a small charity and the constant worry about if it is making the biggest impact it can is huge.

Pressure, stress and worry is all around us every day in the modern world. A big change is recent years has been the massive growth in the use of social media. Thanks to social media we now all tend to see a picture perfect world of those friends, colleagues, peers around us. The perfect family pictures, amazing lifestyles, luxury holidays, gorgeous weekends away, exciting evenings out etc etc. Basically a lot of what we see are people having a seemingly ideal life. This can and does make us question our own. Everything is ideal with the odd filter added here and there, the right framing and so on. Most of us do this, recently I took a pic when I was on a run and made sure there was a nice scene behind me, even though if the pic went slightly more to the right you would have seen burnt out cars and rubbish everywhere!

The same is true in the startup world, as a founder it is tough going it alone, where there often seems to be far more steps backwards than forwards. A lot of the startup focused social media accounts and conversations at startup networking events tend to promote only totally positive startup journeys and this makes us question our own startup journey. Why haven’t I raised x amount in my first year, why haven’t I employed x number of people by end of year two, why don’t I have my own office space… I wrote a blog about how you can keep a positive mindset here, which has a few of my lessons learnt in it!

I am not going to say throw your mobile away, close your Facebook account, leave Instagram, stop tweeting or never attend another networking event again. But what I will say is this. Give yourself a little smile. Remember that whoever has made you question your own journey, they will also have had their ups and downs, they just haven’t taken pictures or posted about that side!

Now this is the tough part… If you can then try and be open with your peers and with those close with you. This sounds easy, but in my experience it is far from that as it really opens you up. It can be seriously disheartening when you open up about your own challenges and are met with people just saying how easy it has been for them or how great everything is in their life. But keep at it. You will find people who respect your openness and will be equally open with you.

For me I am very lucky to have some amazing people who I can be open with. From my wife, to friends, to peers. But it hasn’t been easy; I tend to be quite a closed person and protect myself and don’t naturally share. This has led to me feeling very low at points, to feeling I am not good enough, to making some really poor decisions. But my wife, friends and peers have stuck with me and forgiven me for being an idiot at points. Those around me are now such a huge source of strength, they pick me up time and again, the encourage me to smile and keep me grounded. And all I have had to do is be open.

If you can, try and be open with those around you, keep at it, you wont regret it, I promise. But, if you feel you can’t or you don’t have anyone then give me a shout, I would be honoured to have a chat and be there if you need a friendly ear to listen or someone to encourage you to smile. Just contact me directly here, I promise I will get back to you.

So, never ever worry alone, don’t pay too much attention to those pushing only perfect stories, and be open if you can. Remember, we are all stronger when we are there for each other.

Finally, don’t forget to give yourself a smile, you truly do deserve it 🙂

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