Pressure is just a tool
Julia Mancuso, a world class ski racer and olympic gold medalist, shared this picture on Instagram with the caption:
It's hardly shocking to me, a ski racer in a past life, that she would feel this way. Ski racing is the overlapping Venn Diagram of pressure, adrenaline and danger. Outcomes are 100% on your shoulders... and we learned to enjoy it.
The purpose of pressure is to focus your attention and energy onto a singular ambition.
Not only will this make you better, it will also enhance your experience. After all, without attention, there is no pleasure.
On the other hand, pressure can get to you. This causes you to lose attention and focus on outside forces (most frequently, what will happen if you fail or who you will disappoint).
This is why pressure gets a bad rap: the external focus completely undermines its purpose and sets you up to fail.
Pressure is just a tool: a tool that provokes focus.
It can be very powerful, but if the tool doesn't work for you, don't use it.