This week, I’d like to go on a rant again – if you’ll allow me 😅
The past few weeks have been a bit of a whirlwind, and I suppose that’s the way life goes. I am learning to ride the high and low waves of life instead of fighting them. Doing my best to stay present and patient through it all.
But I have never really been good at being patient. I am SO inpatient. Like most millennials, when I put in some effort, I wanna see dramatic effects, and I wanna see them NOW.
And why wouldn’t I expect that? I’ve been raised in a time where the message is clear: I can be and do whatever I want! My dreams can be reality! Anything is possible!
And if I were to base the plausibility of these statements on what I see on social media, then in fact, yes, I can achieve my wildest dreams.
My social media feeds are flooded with other people’s success, achievements and exciting lives! Everyone is up to something amazing – my friends are traveling the world, starting their own companies, buying homes, getting married and growing families. Some are crazy into health and fitness, others are gung ho about self-improvement and living their “best-life”.
It’s truly amazing, to see all the opportunities within my grasp. I have been practicing gratitude on a daily basis for a while now, and every day I write down at least 5 things that I am grateful for. As much as I can, I try to find new things every day. And this has made me extremely aware of the abundance in my life.
I know that I am lucky, and priviledged. I realise it.
People tell me to try and see this as an exciting time – and that I should relish in the beauty of possibilities, instead of focusing on how overwhelmed I feel.
But if there is anything I have learned this year, is that I should never ignore or repress how I feel.
And the truth of the matter is, I feel fucking overwhelmed.
I feel paralyzed by the sheer abundance of opportunities.
Now, I realize how immensely ignorant and privileged this sounds. Literally, a first-world problem. To be so rich, educated and blessed with opportunities that I feel overwhelmed. I get it.
If anything, this second layer of awareness – the fact that I realized how stupid it is – makes me feel even shittier about how shitty I already feel.
In the past weeks though, while listening to two audiobooks, a TED talk and working through a mindfulness workbook, I have started to realize how I am not really at fault here.
It’s not my fault that I have gotten lost along the way, and that I have constantly been searching for “the next best thing”.
It’s not my fault for believing that gaining social status could make me happy.
It’s not my fault for thinking that once I have the perfect body, I will be worthy of others’ love.
It’s not my fault for thinking that I am weak for being so emotional.
It’s not my fault that I have felt completely inadequate in my successes.
Whatever feelings, I, or you, or anyone else has, about not being enough, it’s not our fault.
I truly believe it’s a result of the society and culture we live in today, and especially in the context of social media. Where influencers like Tony Robbins promise that with enough hard work, anything is possible, and we can all be EXCEPTIONAL. That we are all destined for GREATNESS.
I’m sorry, but as Mark Manson pointed out in his book “The subtle art of not giving a fuck”, the idea that we all can (and deserve) to lead exceptional lives is in and of itself, contradictory. If we all had exceptional lives, then by definition, this would not be exceptional.
I think that this false promise is at the root of most of our suffering.
So how do we get out of this vicious cycle?
Now let’s be clear, I’m not saying that hard work can’t get you something you really want, and that you shouldn’t strive for greatness or for your dreams. I just think it’s important to realize that our worth, and utilmately our happiness, is not determined by our accomplishments.
The way out, for me, is in finding my way back to myself. It’s in figuring out what my core values are, and lining up my life with this.
The workbook that I am going through right now (which no, I have not finished even though I said I hoped to be done by September 18th), is helping me identify my values, and helping me see how my actions and the way I have been living hasn’t been entirely representative of these values. And likely, this has lead to my being deeply unhappy with myself.
I think it’s very easy to get confused in the social media age, because we are exposed to SO much. And everyone seems so happy about whatever they are up to in life. Its no wonder we look at what others are doing, and think to ourselves “if it makes them happy, it most likely will make me happy too!”.
And I think it takes someone who knows themselves, who is in touch with their values, and who lives mindfully, to not get derailed by social media.
So that’s what I am working on for now – finding my way back to who I am, what I value and what makes me feel fulfilled.
This solution isn’t sexy or grandiose. In fact I feel kinda silly even writing about this because it isn’t particularily revolutionary. I’m not promising any major life changes or revelations.
All it is, is a simple and authentic way to live a life that is enough.
And that’s honestly all I want, to feel like who I am, and how I live, are enough.
Here are links to the two audiobooks, the workbook and TED talk that inspired some ideas in this article: