The Success Spiral and Stress

By  Devi

These are intoxicating times both for man and women. For women especially, there are ever-widening frontiers of opportunities, new areas of activity. Once we get on to the roller coaster of success or achievement, it is difficult to get off, to cry 'halt'. You hang on for dear life, meeting crises as and when they crop up, as best as you can. However as you go on careening in a mad whirl on the fast track of life, it is good to pause and take stock, get your bearings as it were, 'where' exactly you going and 'why'- these are important questions to ponder. Otherwise as people go mechanically on their daily grind at break-neck speed, they seem like drivers, going around in circles in search of merely a parking place.

The 'stress syndrome' is a part of our modern vocabulary -  stress invades even our home front. It starts from childhood. School admission lists are read like suspense thrillers, so great do the parents experience the anxiety. Homework even at the kindergarten and primary school level piles up into intimidating mountains. Though, overloaded syllabi deprive children of a care-free childhood, the child is still urged to do better and better, much more than he/she is capable of, whether it is in academic work, sports, whatever.....

The pressure point is the home, where parental high expectations place an unbearable burden on the young minds. Instead of being a haven, the one place where one can be free from the tensions of the competitive world outside, the home has become a battleground for the opposing wills of parents and children. Parents hardly allow youngsters a couple of hours of relaxation. Sports are strictly a 'no,no' activity. Reading for pleasure is an unheard of a vocation. Day in and day out, the moment a youngster reaches home form school, he is reminded of the umpteen coaching classes and tuition's he has to attend. Hardly are one set of examinations over, than there are entrance tests, and yet more tests to prepare for. To achieve excellence the young have to struggle hard, much harder then the previous generation ever did. At no stage can they feel content with what they have achieved. There is the ubiquitous comparison with others who have fared better. After the struggle to get into one or the other of the professional courses and after successfully completing the course, the next hurdle is to get a good placement. The competition is equally stiff. Earlier, once a person got a foothold in a good profession/establishment, he settled down with a sense of fulfillment. Now, the watchword is 'move it'. The young professional does not remain long in any job. He is on the move all the time, changing jobs with the same case and rapidity as cars in the fast lane. A hectic life style, socialising with a vengeance, late-late nights are a part of a young professionals routine. The over-achiever, whether man or women, is a workaholic who patterns his whole life around his career. Lunch is skipped, sleep is cut to the bare minimum, and family takes a back seat. In the final analysis, is it worthwhile to put personal happiness 'on hold' while climbing the ladder of success? Are we are not heading for what Jane Fonda so aptly terms " going for the burn?"

Women in particular feel pressurised from all sides. The career women cum wife cum mother juggles her many roles, resembling a circus performer more than anything else. How long can she maintain her balancing act, without doing damage to her psyche? Steeply rising prices make planning and management of home finances a mockery. The myriad chores involved in running a home, the emotional demands made by husband and children, professional commitments make the women of today feel like a trapeze artist, swinging wildly to and for, going from a sense of achievement to one of dismal failure on all fronts.

Let us take a breather; take a hard, clear look at the life we are leading. Achievement has a sweet ring of success to it but the tension and stress that go with it will take their toll. Today we age faster. True, people don't look older, thanks to the pressure to look younger. Our mother could age gracefully - we can't because a premium is placed on younger people in careers. Today society has no time for old people. The cosmetic revolution makes everyone look younger than they are but do they feel young in spirit? Frankly, our mothers in their old age have more stamina then we do. The paradox of modern life is that people have a longer life span but age faster. They go grey prematurely, lack freshness, even face health hazards in their thirties and forties, instead of in their sixties and later.

It is time to learn to 'go easy'. There is no need to prove that one is a superman or superwomen. It is time to create time and space in our lives for such relaxing enriching and stimulating activities like physical exercise music, yoga, theatrics, reading, cultivate friendships, strengthen bonds of love. Life is many splendoured, let us savour it.

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