There seems to be an unwritten list of stuff we're supposed to achieve.
Finish school, tick. Go to university, tick. Get married, tick. Have babies, tick. But how many people actually tick all the boxes and are truly happy about it?
This week Wollongong and Shellharbour council mayors took me up on a walk for Talk2MeBro's September fundraiser called Walk With Me. It raises awareness and funds for the local mental health/suicide prevention charity.
On paper, Gordon Bradbery (Wollongong lord mayor) and Chris Homer (Shellharbour mayor) may appear pretty set - good job, positions of power, and partners who loves them.
Cr Homer, who didn't tick the 'finish school' box and dropped out in Year 10, and his partner Vikki Muller are desperately trying for a baby, and were heartbreakingly caught up in IVF clinic's bacteria outbreak.
Among his friends and in his role as mayor he's seeing others are struggling too.
Cr Bradbery, who's also a Uniting Church minister, recently conducted the funeral service for a friend. He chuckled that the "formula for life" (ticking all those boxes) doesn't make everyone happy, and when it doesn't people are hard on themselves.
"We swallow an ideal that somehow or other we think we've got to comply with, and try and fulfill, and at times that just causes us nothing more than heartache. We can't do everything," he said.
"Perhaps the best or the most fulfilling thing, is just deep and significant relationships with a few people who care for us, and that might be your family or your group of friends."
Nasty comments on social media further fuel unhappiness, Cr Homer said.
"We're in a society where we're super quick to judge and condemn, and assign blame and assign what you're not doing. And I think that part of society needs to just pull right back and get back into accepting people as they are," he said.
"We're all our biggest critics anyway."
So, how does a mayor, minister and husband help his own mental health? Cr Bradbery said that's easy, he loves gardening, hanging out with his good mates, and his family.
"Don't take life too seriously. Keep physically active as well as mentally engaged, in terms of exploring all sorts of things, whether it be watching a good doco, or a good movie, or a bit of music," he said.
For Cr Homer, he's all about good food, getting out into nature and surfing every single day.
"First and foremost I love and accept myself nowadays. I'm 55 now and I've just got to the point where, well, I'm gonna set myself first and foremost, and I'm gonna proceed from there," he said.
I've registered to walk and raise funds for Walk With Me and I've set a personal goal of 120 kilometres to help those struggling. So far I've walked 55 kilometres.
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