The internet, aeroplanes; access to a plethora of trendy, light weight portable gadgets that provide us with just about everything we want and sometimes need; and of course, Netflix – what would we do without it? Living in the 21st Century has its undoubted perks. These are just a very few, a minutiae of the many wonderful things we have access to in the modern world. Not to mention the astonishing amount of choice, variables and options we are presented with: iPlayer, On demand, iPhone, iPhone 5 – the green one 32GB, ‘I’ll have a Java bean, triple, venti, half sweet, non-fat, caramel macchiato please.” It often seems a bit ludicrous how much choice we actually have, but we do have a lot of it, something our predecessors were never acquainted with.
But as a “westernised” millennial I know from personal experience that there is also a lot to contend with, what with the ever increasing competitive nature driven by Eurocentric culture, the continual pressures to be on top, to be at the forefront, to function at 100% or more, all of the time. But if your best does not measure up to the to the standards of others then actually it is not your best, you do not conform, you are not a success at least not in our society. These messages we subconsciously and eventually consciously internalise which begin to wreak havoc with our self identities and our individual core beliefs, which in turn influence our judgments, everyday choices, feelings and emotions.
If you think back to the Aesop fable of the tortoise and the hare, although there are many adaptations and variants of the tale, we can learn from the accounts that often slow and steady “wins” the race.
Unlike those who run 100 mph and beyond straight to the finish line, the slow and steady pace themselves, checks in on themselves, and takes time to observe, learn and experience the journey. Unfortunately, many of us nowadays are much more like the expediting hare or if we were to reflect on a more recent modern day anthropomorphism, I am sure many of us could relate quite easily to The Duracell Bunny.
We push, push and overexert ourselves most of the time, all in the name of prosperity; achieving the highest grades, getting into the best college or University, attaining the greatest career, the Insta and Twitter followers – the good life – that funny thing that we label success! We become totally oblivious to all the madness and mania we get caught up in whilst trying to achieve, just because this way of life has become normalised and revered in most of our societies.
If we don’t follow the pursuit of the “uber fast track get there quick, achieve, achieve, achieve” pace of life, then we’re labelled lazy, the “giver up”, the one that got left behind. Don’t get me wrong, this is a lifestyle that satisfies many people, some people really buzz off it, but it’s not for everyone.
I believe that many of us are just very good at convincing and pressuring ourselves into believing that this is what we want and or it is what we are supposed to do (because everyone else seems to be doing the same thing).
I am a sucker for this. I have a tendency of sending myself into overdrive – only to end up burnt out and I begin to panic. All of a sudden, in my mind I perceive myself to be a failure – I’m not good at anything, I’m not good enough, all my hard work is for nothing, and the spiral continues to perpetuate further and further down. Instead of celebrating everything that I have achieved already in my life, which my family and friends are quick to remind me of, I discredit and discount everything I have ever done. I think some of us are afraid to talk about these kinds of thoughts and feelings because we believe that we are the only ones experiencing them, we believe it is a sign of weakness – but it’s not.
I know now, after opening up and speaking to many of my peers, that I am not alone when it comes to trying to keep up with the times, the status quo, the general consensus.
Some of you may have also done the same. But it is not until you make the conscious effort to slow down, take yourself out of the madness, and allow yourself to really relax that you can afford yourself the time to reflect back on the journey so far; acknowledge, accept and respect the foundations you have already made and see how far you have come without comparing yourself to others.
Let’s make an effort to do some self reflection, be mindful, and celebrate what our own achievements have been so far, as well as looking towards future achievements.
Written by Paige Jackson.
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