We millennials are in a culture addicted to achieving. Getting top grades, a great job, a pay rise, a snazzy car to flaunt your financial success: these are all examples of the things we think about, all the time remaining aware of how others see us, and how we fit in society.
Success is often measured in terms of others’ opinions of us, how much money we have going into the bank, how many Facebook friends we have, and other such quantifiable factors which, deep down, we know are unimportant and not reflections of our happiness of ourselves at all.
In our pursuits to achieve, we rarely stop to look around and appreciate what we already have. Our focus falls only on what is just outside ourselves, rather than learning to be satisfied with who we are and what we have. But what if we changed our mindsets and realised that actually, right now, we have it all?
The problem with being satisfied right here, right now, is that we have nowhere else to be, nothing else to ‘do,’ nothing to spur us on or make us feel like we’re important, influential beings in society. Many of us are afraid to be satisfied — to be happy — because we are afraid of the stillness. If we have spent our whole lives trying to achieve other people’s goals, we have spent our time filled with pursuit, rushing through life to put ticks on our ‘to-do’ lists, an activity that (usefully) often serves as a distraction from the negative feelings like loneliness or worthlessness.
By sticking to the ‘socially accepted’ rhythm of life and achievements, we feel safe in knowing that we have achieved the status of ‘acceptable’ and ‘successful’ by onlookers.
So here’s a thought: what would happen if we let go of social expectations and instead, made our own ‘to-do’ lists?
What happened if we slowed down, listened to our bodies and responded to the wants and needs of our spiritual sides?
Even the most wealthy, most beautiful, most intelligent among us feel fear. But what really matters is how we let this fear manifest. Do we sit and procrastinate from being our true selves, live in fear of the ‘monsters’ within us, or do we take a breath, put down the ‘to-do’ list made by someone else and remind ourselves that we are unique, beautiful individuals, each carrying the potential to be amazing if only we were true to ourselves?
Sounds so simple, doesn’t it, just to ‘be yourself’? But with so much noise around us telling us how we ought to come across, the image we ought to project to be socially acceptable, the jobs we need to have to be labelled ‘successful’, the lifestyle we ought to pursue and other such prescribed ‘rules,’ the voice of little old You can easily be drowned out.
Take a moment to be still, and don’t be afraid to listen to your inner needs and trust your body.
As my dear favourite Oscar Wilde once said, “Be yourself; everyone else is taken.”
Indeed, there’s nothing more boring than someone caught up in their ego trying to be someone else, in desperate fear of being discovered for themselves!
The most ridiculous thing is that actually, the person inside is real, shining, beautiful and natural, just as they were born to be.
So prioritise your goals, learn to love yourself, and listen to the part of you that maybe you ignore to satisfy society. If there was a huge fire that burnt all material objects in the world, think of the person you would be.
Think of this; and never forget who you really are, when setting your goals and making your choices.
By Alexandra Valenzuela