Scrolling through Facebook, I stumbled onto an article from thoughtcatalog.com titled “This Is How We Date Now” by Jamie Varon. In the article, Jamie points out a key characteristic of our generation that never before applied: a limitless world at the touch of our fingertips filled with more options than one can handle or needs. This isn’t only how we date now, but how we live. As a result of the constant stimuli via Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. we end up vainly chasing for a picture perfect life. But, like the old proverb once warned, “The cake is a lie” so, too, are the pictures. We constantly post our best foot forward; profiles filled with highlight reels of our favorite moments but the reality is we’re chasing something that doesn’t exist. In a time when personal brand can make or break a job offer or acceptance letter, it’s difficult to stop and appreciate what we do have.
Personally, with graduation right around the corner, I find myself guilty of this behavior. When I’m competing against underclassmen who have had internships since high school, it’s difficult to focus on the characteristics and qualities that make me special. The constant stream of emails about upcoming networking events with alumni, statistics on how successful the graduating class was, the fields they go into, and the “what are you going to do with that major/after college” questions place a lot of pressure on an individual. Coupled with the highly competitive atmosphere of William & Mary and you’re bound to go insane.
After some heart-to-hearts and reflection, I’m here to say you don’t need others to validate your life. The number of followers, LinkedIn connections, likes, comments, and upvotes won’t determine whether you’re living the life or settling. At the end of the day I want to look back on the earlier hours, yesterday, last semester, and even last year with an inner peace from living a life true to myself and not a life others expected of me. Don’t be like the merchant in The Alchemist by Paolo Coehlo (if you haven’t read it, read it) who never left his town for fear his dream would disappear the moment he pursued it. Stop comparing your behind the scenes to others’ highlight reel. Chase your passions even if they’re not lucrative. Find what you love and let it fulfill you until your last breath. The grass isn’t promised to be greener on the other side, but if you’ve found an imperfect spot to call your own, why leave in the first place? You’re not settling, you’re happy. Know the difference and choose happiness.
~ Lynelle Haugabrook