We live in a day and age where we are constantly being told we think too little; that we lack empathy and understanding. Do you think about starving children enough times during the week? Do you donate to reputable charities? No, you probably don’t. Let’s face it, society has deemed you ignorant, and frankly, a little selfish. This image is so (in)conveniently confirmed in a world where most of us are glued to our smartphones, hooked onto text messages, anxiously anticipating a ‘like’ or a ‘follow.’ However, the problem many of us face today is exactly the opposite of what was described above: we, unfortunately, don’t think too little, and we really are not selfish human beings. In fact, to be more specific, we are individuals who care too much; about our self-image, about the words we say to those around us, even about the many facial expressions we give off during the day that others may misread. These fears can even get so intricate that the shapes, colors as well as the numerous layers of clothes we pile on ourselves are so systematically thought out in hopes of avoiding harsh stares from others, or worse: the mere thought of being judged by a stranger.
From the moment you are born, you are told what to believe, how to behave, and when to speak. You are given a step-by-step plan on how to succeed, which requires minimal thinking on your part. The plan is to go to school, graduate with top marks, get into the best university, make impressive connections with those around you, graduate with honors, enter a professional school, land the best job you can with the highest paying salary, find an equally amazing husband or wife, have adorable babies, and make sure to take a few pictures along the way so everyone can be aware of the fact that you’re not screwing things up. These are all ‘checkpoints’ society loves to encourage, despite the fact that this may sometimes conflict with your hearts true desires. You have been shaped by society and tricked into believing that you cannot slow down in fear of failure, and to make every decision a financially productive one. As a result of this, any decision that does not support this concept creates a web of guilt and shame that becomes increasingly difficult to step out of.
This becomes especially problematic the moment you become the host that feeds this ‘insecurity virus.’ Not only do you nurture the virus, allowing it to grow and mutate into a potentially deadlier form, but you spread it to those around you as well, ultimately finding comfort in a sea of people, for generations to come.
Ultimately, your blind acceptance of the world around you takes part in a nation-wide domino effect. When society encourages the creation of aforementioned checkpoints, many continuously re-evaluate their lives in the form of mental progress reports, questioning their success through constant comparisons via social media outlets. True happiness oftentimes gets swept aside as a consequence of placing the monetary value of objects on a shiny, silver platter. Behind all the smoke and mirrors, most of us are extremely unhappy.
Do not find momentary happiness in posting pictures of luxury items on Instagram or Facebook, infatuated with the concept of gaining others approval. Do not give in to these distractions; they do not offer an accurate representation of your core self. Do not strive to create an image of something you are not, in hopes of feeling okay with your life choices. Similar to a drug, this feeling is only temporary, and only runs through your veins as frequently as the pictures being uploaded. Break this cycle of doubt with the use of introspection; listen to the aching desires your heart desperately seeks to chase, and aspire to accept its wishes. If happiness is said to be your number one priority, why is it always left on the backburner? Why have you not owed it to yourself to fight for the flicker of life buried deep within?
The risk scares every fiber of your being while simultaneously exciting it. Listen to that rush of excitement; it is a reminder that you are alive, and that you exist. Respond to it. Take a chance, grab life’s hands as you take that leap of faith, even if that means going against social order. It will not be predictable, it is hardly ever structured, and unfortunately, it will never be risk-free, but I assure you, it will be worth it. Go beyond your safety zone, be daring, put your life on hold while you figure a few things out, even if this means being completely broke, eating ramen noodles on the floor of a cramped apartment in a foreign country that you are absolutely infatuated with. Happiness is not the result of elaborate calculations, or carefully weighed decisions that society has framed for you, it is a simple path, guided by all of the voices trapped inside your body shouting “yes.”
Be selfish; uncover your single truths within your soul. Play and repeat what rings true to you, for this may sometimes be silenced by the world’s expectations of you. It is okay to be selfish sometimes. New Year, new wishes, new resolutions, new groups of people desperately seeking something new, yet refusing change. Wasn’t it Einstein who once said that insanity consists of doing something over and over again and expecting a different result?