The Pressure Is On – But It’s My Fault

Every person, whether an educator or not, experiences a form of pressure throughout their life. Pressure, as defined, can be:

  • The burden of physical or mental distress.
  • The constraint of circumstancethe weight of social or economic imposition.
  • The stress or urgency of matters demanding attention.

While all of these definitions play a part in our lives, I have found the last definition to be the one that is most applicable to my life. Yet, as I reflected on this form of pressure, I realized that this pressure is something that I place on myself. It’s something that is occurring internally, rather than externally.

It’s at this point that I realized there are two forms of pressure: internal and external. Internal pressure is the stress that we place on ourselves based on our own goals and ambitions. External pressure is the stress that is placed on us by other people to meet a set of expectations.

As educators, I think we often feel the stress or urgency (pressure) of performing the best for our students, their parents, our fellow teachers and administrators, the district office, or even, at times, on a worldwide level. It’s a pressure that, at times, can be all-consuming. It’s a pressure that cannot escape our minds on nights and weekends. It’s something we think about on a daily, if not hourly, basis.

But…is that an internal or external pressure? Is it something we are placing on ourselves? Or something that is being placed on us? The answer to this question will vary by person since everyone has their own personalities, ambitions, and working environments. For myself, I know that a large portion of the pressure I feel in my life is due to myself. I place the pressure on myself to try to be the perfect teacher – which is an impossible task since perfection is unattainable.

I’ve always tried to be transparent in my blog posts, so I thought I would share that I have recently found the weight of internal pressure to be a bit heavy. I have felt the pressure to have the perfect lesson plans that truly engage every student. I have felt the pressure to have the perfect classroom that has flexible seating and an engaging learning space. I have felt the pressure to maintain a creative and educational blog. I have felt the pressure to develop BoostEDU and support educators with technology integration. These are just a few pressures that I feel on a daily basis, this list could most certainly go on and on.

Yet with all these internal pressures, I keep hearing these two words in my mind: Be still. These two words come from a Bible verse and have always been present in my mind when I feel my brain spinning.

Slow down, be present and be still. All good things will come to pass with time.

As an A-type personality educator, I know that the internal pressures will always heavily upon me because…well, I simply love what I do. However, it’s important for me to reflect that the pressure that exists is something I am placing on myself. I have to learn how to maintain that passion and excitement – but also how to control it and not let it overwhelm me. I also have to understand that my expectations of myself far exceed the expectations that others have for me and that, every once in awhile, I have to give myself a break.

What kind of pressure do you feel in your life? Internal or external? How do you cope with these pressures?

7 thoughts on “The Pressure Is On – But It’s My Fault

  1. Thank you so much for sharing this list and your heart! You’ve summed up well the EXACT same struggles I deal with virtually every minute of every day! If nothing else, you’ve validated those feelings and caused me not to feel quite so alone and isolated in them. I am, certainly, my toughest critic and am FAR harder on myself than anyone else ever could be. Ironically, the Bible verse you mentioned is a verse I claimed LONG ago as the single-most challenging verse that I’ve encountered in Scripture thus far. It’s is a verse I often meditate on, pray word-for-word, and revisit OFTEN! I am fully aware this this is my life/growth verse as it is my absolute, most prominent area that I could improve on both professionally and personally!

    1. I absolutely agree that it is one of the most difficult Bible verses to put into action! I am glad you found this post to be helpful. 🙂

  2. I needed to hear this, because I wholeheartedly agree. A great deal of the pressure I feel is internal. I constantly feel the pressure because I love what I do and take pride in what I do, and especially because I feel I owe it to my students to be an amazing teacher because I love and care for them.
    Being a teacher means being in a constant state of trying to be the best I can be, but realizing that I can always be better, and that despite my best efforts, I can’t always do everything I want for every child. I’m only human. All I can do is continue to try every day.

  3. Thank you for sharing. I empathize and needed to hear this as well. October and November are stressful months, as we try to “fit everything in” before student free days or breaks, conferences, progress reports, report cards… External and internal are both at play. I find that turning off email notifications and my parent app notifications past certain hours eliminates some external pressures, so I can just focus on my own internal ones. Exercise and meditation help as well, when you schedule time for it. We can’t forget about self care!

  4. What an exceptional piece, Meagan! It’s so easy to say, “just be” or “I’m gonna just chill on this” but the fact is most excellence is somewhat driven by the same forces that cause us to put this pressure on ourselves. Such a tough balance, such a tough thing to embrace too. This really is a wonderfully applicable post for teachers, but applies to so many others in and beyond education.

    I think you captured the feelings of many of us “type A’ers” and I am so happy leaders like you are supporting teachers and letting them know they are not alone.

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