Are the pressures of life changing?
To what extent are the choices we make in life, and the age at which we make them, influenced or even pushed by external pressures.
We decided to ask the general public to find out. And this is what we discovered...
Friends, family, colleagues at work have traditionally been where most social pressure comes from.
'I definitely feel a lot of pressure, mostly from my mum and my dad, and the workplace.'
‘A lot of kids are becoming very anxious and depressed... because they’re seeing celebrities that are becoming YouTubers or social media influencers and think they can get that. It’s possible, but only for a small fraction.’
This is particularly true of Millennials, 45% of whom say they compare themselves to celebrities and influencers. Look at wider society, however, and you notice the generational split, as 55% of the UK says it never compares itself to celebrities or influencers at all.
People have fairly set ideas about when you should have hit major milestones in life. Our data suggests that most people in the UK think:
- you should be married and have children by age 29
- you should be on the property ladder by age 30
- you should have landed your dream job by age 31.
‘My parents always ask me, have you got a boyfriend, and if I do, how are you doing? Lots of friends are getting married and stuff, so I want that life as well.’
While the UK seems to believe you should be married by age 29, in reality the average age of a bride in the UK is 35.1 and a groom 37.5. And, despite societal pressures, most of us seem fine with that.
‘I think the younger generation today are making decisions in life too quickly, just because the previous generation laid down the foundation. And now we’re trying to imitate that without stepping back to think, wait….’
On the whole, people seem to cope with whatever social pressure they're under, and have a good perspective on those milestones, at least once they're past them.
‘In terms of children and families, I don’t actually feel that much pressure because in society now things start very late and people don’t have children till their late 30s, so I’m just kinda going with the flow.’
Social media also offers new opportunities
Social media is more than a source of unachievable ambitions. It also provides opportunities for new forms of interaction, for communication, and business.
‘I think social media gives more freedom to the generations now, as there are more ways to express yourself.’
But then, even pressure itself isn’t always a negative.
‘Everyone needs pressure in their life. But at some point everyone needs to look at how they deal with it. And put that pressure and energy to their advantage.’
Perhaps we should take comfort from the final figure to come from our survey - as we get older it seems we're less susceptible to pressure from outside - 39% of those over 55 told us that feel under pressure from nothing at all.
'Yeah, I feel in control of my life. 99.9% of the time.'
We thought we'd get a handle on what millennials really think about life pressures, from getting married to landing a dream job. Read our report on Life According to Society.