We’ve yet to differentiate what we want to be and what we want to do.
When we set out to decide what it is we want for our lives, we’re instructed to meditate on what it is we want to become, but we don’t actually take into consideration what that requires doing each day. So in an effort to attain a title, or some other ego-pleasing idea of who we are, we forego considering what kind of day-to-day, moment-to-moment lives we want to live, until it’s too late. Degrees have been completed, careers set on track. We have loans to pay and reputations we think we need to uphold. Very few of us actually want to grind our existence away in a cubicle, serving someone else’s egotistical desires. But even fewer of us dare to choose a life that’s apart from what we’ve been taught is right.
We were taught “you can be anything,” and we heard “you have to be everything.”
In a world of infinite possibilities, and within us an infinite potential to achieve, attain, acquire or become anything we want, it seems almost an affront to ourselves not to strive to be more, more, more. Needless to say: the sentiment is great, but the application of it is misguided. Rather than “you can be anything you want,” we should teach our kids, “you can be exactly who you are, if so you choose to be.” You don’t need to be everything. You don’t need to be maxing out your potential in every corner of your life. The very concept of doing so is just an idea, an attachment to what success “means.” It does not make for a “good life,” nor does it actually yield contentment. (It should be noted, that the first phrase is a play on a Courtney Martin quote.)
We collectively convince one another that it’s normal to be mostly emotionless, or, at least, that composure = emotional intelligence.
We were not built to be “chill” all the time. How do I know? Because if we were, we would be. It wouldn’t be such a source of struggle and suffering, to keep ourselves in one constant state of emotion. And, on the flip side, the most complete peace comes from accepting whatever state you’re in, however you’re feeling, without resistance.
We think that what we see is what is reality.
That what we can perceive is what actually exists, indefinitely. That how people appear to be is how everybody is. That what we think of a situation, or how we feel about it, is a genuine representation of how it is, or how it will turn out. We don’t leave ourselves room for possibility, or ground ourselves in the simple knowledge that what we understand of others, or are allowed to consume by them, is, as that cliche phrase would have it, their highlight reel. It’s not going to look the same as our “behind the scenes,” which is all we have to compare it to.
We place entertainment and luxury above meaning, and think it’s a mark of an advanced society.
In reality, cultures turn to entertainment when they’re lacking meaning. Not to mention chasing passive leisure and status symbols and blinding, stupefying cultural phenomena turns us into insatiable monsters, always grabbing for more and more, and completely unable to be grounded or find meaning in the lives we actually lead, not the ones we pretend we do.
We’ve replaced human connection with internet connection… and think they’re comparable, if not the same thing.
We, as a species, need love. We actually, seriously need it. Babies cannot survive without human touch. We cannot thrive without connection, without relationships, without feeling as though we have a tribe or a community or a family or a support system. We’re not programmed to exist for our individual benefit… but we’re placing screens and devices and social media between us and the love we actually want. We’re isolating ourselves and wondering why photos don’t feel like experiences, or why we can’t swipe our way to real intimacy.
We feel spotlighted.
We honestly believe that people are always watching, that they’re evaluating our every move, judging what we choose and do. That’s not paranoia, that’s knowing our day-to-day existence is, in fact, chronicled by social outlets that… do exactly that. We become celebrities in our own minds, and start making choices the collective will find appeasing or “good,” as opposed to what we genuinely want. It’s what’s bred the “introversion” trend, the desperate desire for seclusion. We don’t actually want to be away from people… we want to escape our own minds.