Your life is not a resume.
As easy as is this to say aloud, it’s far more difficult to internalize and accept, given how so much around us thrives on competitiveness, exclusiveness and prestige, on things that we should be able to list and describe and convey and demonstrate. We all want to live the “best” lives in the most conspicuous sense of the word: We want the best job, the best relationship, the best home or apartment in the best neighborhood in the best city, the best day-to-day experiences, the best prospects and dreams and potential. What else would you want other than the best? No one with motivation or drive or ambition would ostensibly want to settle for anything less.
Yet this compulsive and incessant competition pervades our thinking far more than many of us realize, or care to admit. How many people live in a city because it is seemingly the only place for a smart or ambitious person to be? How many people enter a line of work or pursue a career not because it is fully engaging and fulfilling and rewarding, but in part because of its apparent prestige? It often seems as if we live to impress others, rather than truly live for ourselves. Too many people accept that life is something that comes later, that is enjoyed at a future date, that one can postpone living happily until they’ve somehow “made it” by impressing those around them, and themselves. Yet what does it take to impress?
It’s as simple as this: Life is not a resume. Life is not a simple distillation and description of experience, neatly formatted in black and white onto a single page. Life does not fit into titles and positions and tasks and responsibilities in descending order of time and importance. Life is not a summary, a boiled-down collection of buzzwords and industry jargon and skills, tailored to meet another’s standards, to be affirmed and validated by someone else. Life does not differentiate between what you’ve done because you’ve truly wanted to, and what you’ve done because it’s what you thought others expected you to do. “Success” and “best” and “accomplishment” are all entirely subjective.
Once you cease to view your life, your job, your relationships, your location and your plans as a series of outward benchmarks to meet, as checked boxes on a list, as steps toward a sudden and abstract state of completion and fulfillment, you liberate yourself to actually live. Not just live as a resume dictates, as the veneer of a seemingly impressive LinkedIn profile or popular Facebook post or well-crafted Instagram image, but to find meaning in your everyday existence, in its originality and being catered to you, and you alone. This is when you move beyond impressing others and crafting your appearance to others to focus on doing the same for yourself – and ultimately, living for yourself, not to satisfy the criteria of others’ expectations.