I sit. A lot. I sit for the most part of my day, staring at a screen, hoping that words will come to me. Hoping that something “DIFFERENT!” and “INNOVATIVE!” and “TRENDY!” comes to mind. As if my many years in school, writing essays, reports and thesis papers prepared me enough to be writing out here, in the “real world,” where grades translate into clicks.
As I continue to stare at the blank page on my screen I realize how little my studies actually prepared me for this feeling. The feeling of not knowing what words I, or anyone else, want to see written on the page.
While browsing topics on certain websites that I like, I usually become disheartened when I scroll down. Pages and pages of articles with titles like: What glitter you should wear for your next Instagram post OR How to gain more Instagram followers based on your zodiac sign.
All different versions of what we seem to need the most in our lives: followers.
As I sit in a coffee shop writing this, to my left, there’s a group of women talking about launching their fashion website and their need for followers. In front of me, there’s a group of men trying to launch an app, also discussing partnerships with influencers. From across the cafe, I can see a girl meticulously adjusting her coffee and book to take the perfect picture.
I understand. Having followers can bring great things, like: money, traveling, clothes, food, etc. With followers, you can have a way of life that doesn’t require building a career.
Followers are the new currency and engagement is the value.
Look, I’m on board. But there’s one thing that I can’t shake.
Every day, I look through social media and I see how my friends, acquaintances and (mostly) the people who I don’t know but follow, are building a life for and around their social media.
I see how, steadily, or sometimes mysteriously fast, their number of followers increases.
I see how they start to get more likes on their pictures, more views on their videos and more comments.
I see it and most importantly, I pay attention to it. Why? Because sometimes, I can’t help but compare their dream to mine.
My mind automatically thinks: the more engagement on their social media, the closer they are to achieving their dreams.
It doesn’t matter if someone wants to be an acclaimed author, actor, chef, fashionista, photographer, financier, entrepreneur, or you name it because there’s no difference on social media if you’re dreaming big.
Then it hit me: we’re all dreaming big. All of us.
Long gone are the days when we dreamed about settling down, starting a family, having a home with a white picket fence, driving the kids to school and making just enough money to live a comfortable life.
Now, it’s more than that. Now, it’s also about freedom.
We don’t want a white picket fence when we could have all the world: a house in Italy for a week, a bungalow in a small exotic island for two weeks, an apartment in Mexico for a month.
We want a job that allows us the freedom to work from home, wherever that may be, and a life that doesn’t force us to stay in one place for too long.
We want to dream big. And that’s great.
But then, what happens if we’re all dreaming big?
What happens when the coffee shop is full of dreamers on their laptops in the middle of the day?
When we’re all doing something, it becomes a collective understanding of the new reality.
It’s not a dream, it’s a possibility.
We’re on the verge of something else now. A new way of life that doesn’t need to be thought of as a “dream” anymore.
Somehow, that seems less scary because we get to take control of what we want and do it in our own way, in our own time, in whatever place we choose.
Yes, it feels overwhelming sometimes to see everyone on social media living a life that seems so far from your own.
It even seems ridiculous at times to be worried about the number of people who look at your daily life, and think to themselves: “I wish I had that life.” Because your way of life now depends on how much others want it to be their own.
But it’s ok. Because it’s possible to have that life. And we also know that half of what we see on social media is not the only thing happening. We know that a single picture is not the whole story.
More followers, comments and likes, don’t mean that someone is closer to achieving a “dream.” It means that they’re already living in a range of possibilities that they’ve created for themselves.
And so, now, as I sit in the coffee shop, the girls next to me have left and a man has taken their place. He’s a writer, like me, and is only in Mexico City for a week, for no reason. He’s here because he wanted to visit the city and because his job allows him the freedom to do so.
It’s a new reality where we create our own limits. Limits that we don’t need to define just as long as we keep moving, with or without followers, comments and likes.
If we’re all dreaming big, then it’s no longer a dream, it’s a possibility.