In today’s day and age, it seems as if we millennials must strive for perfection. A large contributing factor to this reprogramming of the mind and our behavior patterns is certainly the contributions of social media. My wife and I watched “The Social Dilemna” back in November (on Netflix) and albeit knowing many of the things conveyed in the documentary, I really enjoyed seeing it visually displayed. If you have not seen it or have not even heard of it, then I encourage you to watch it with an open mind – all bias aside.

 

This then spurred some thoughts on us Millenials in combination with what society wants us to be. So I began writing this post shortly after watching the documentary, jotting down a few thoughts, but did not get around to finishing this specific post until today.

The problem with us Millenials (especially our age group vs. others), is that we have an irrational pursuit of perfectionism that naturally has a negative side effect on our psyche. However, everyone striving for this so-called perfection – more academic titles, high paying jobs along with the respective job title, more skill sets than ever before has become part of this non-stop machinery of pressured success. In my opinion, we need to become more conscious of this fact and protect ourselves from so-called societal perfectionism, because ultimately when you grind it down to the bone, all this really does is rob our precious life and energy.

We as people are individuals. Nevertheless, it is in our human nature that we have to constantly compare ourselves, primarily with and against others (unless you can learn to pit against yourself – which is real success), but naturally, this instinct of comparison is to a certain extent a necessity in our society in order to allow us to continuously develop. But when I objectively look at what is happening to my generation, these natural instincts are going in the completely wrong direction, hence we need countermeasures. The world in which we live today, ever-on, has implemented (especially for Gen Y – those between 20 – 40 years of age) these neverending impulses of subconscious suggestion to always get faster and better.
It used to be that you would talk to colleagues and acquaintances on the phone or at work and they would report about how their kids are doing, about a new promotion, the things happening in their lives, etc – all in a sort of answering the question “who has achieved more?”. Hear me out, because I know that sentence may sound very superficial and on the surface only, however, when thinking about it in-depth, think about the circumstances and situations you have been in. Why do others around you tell you “the great things” in their lives? For that comparison.

Today, however, in our “social networked” world, the range of comparators has become much wider. You may sit on the couch late at night after a long day at work and may even be completely satisfied. The day started well, you received praise from your boss, perhaps your spouse/partner prepared a wonderful dinner and everything was great. Afterward, you even indulged in a delicious dessert right there where we started this – on the couch. However, then you pick up your phone and open Instagram.
The scrolling begins! Followed closely by the inner struggle with yourself and the countless blaming in your head. Going back to the documentary of “the social dilemma” – albeit us knowing how much staging is behind the whole self-expressionism, we are not able to protect ourselves from the thoughts rolling through our heads.

  • How can he/she have such a body with two children?
  • How does a 20-year-old build a multi-million dollar empire?
  • How do they travel without seeming to work all the time?

These and other questions are surely what goes through a majority of Gen Y minds when browsing social media and seeing the wide range of comparable people, not only within one’s own surroundings but across the globe. The colorful mix of posts on various networks from professional success stories to personal goals and a variety of other triumphs leaves most people questioning everything within a millisecond and it makes us believe that everyone else is happier and more self-confident than you are.

We all have our own pace. Naturally, we should take care of ourselves – that includes eating well, sleeping well, exercising regularly, and pursuing our own goals. But most of all in this “social media world” it means self-love. And I don’t mean narcissistic self-love believing you are the center of the universe. What I mean is being content with who/what/where you are including not making the wishes and goals of others your own. Logically, be motivated through others, however, do not be dissuaded of your own path. If you are happy falling asleep on the couch at 1 am with a bag of chips after watching a movie on a Friday night, so be it. This does not mean you are less successful than the person who goes to bed at 10 pm and gets in their 7 hours of sleep to get up at 5 am and goes running. The same goes for your professional environment. If you feel comfortable with what you are doing and the employment relationship you have, then that is just as good as if you needed to start your own company.

Because the question you need to answer with a yes to yourself when looking in the mirror is – does it make me happy?

You are living your life, not someone else’s. Don’t mistake all the noise in our ever-online world for who you need to be. Utilize it for your own goals. Be motivated, learn, take certain elements from others along your journey in life, however this constant pressure for success and only success is a superficial creation I believe society has built especially around Gen Y. Again, do not misinterpret what I mean to dispel. Strive for success, but know that you should do whatever you want to do. If you do not feel like taking a digital marketing class or upskilling in Tableau, or getting six-pack abs, or building your own business, etc, etc – totally cool. Let’s get back to our roots of “being” more than “doing”, especially in the online world.

Recognize what makes you happy, whether you want to be sportslike or live completely relaxed, are an early bird or night owl, or a mix of anything. Be who you want to be and recognize that everyone (including yourself) has their own definition of happiness and contentment. Know this and pursue life with purpose. Base this year’s goals on you!

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