a modern ratrace

We live in a world no one has ever dreamed of. The cardinal thing for survival is embracing our individuality!

As I’m writing this I am strikingly connected. I’m obviously writing online (who the hell still writes locally only to publish later?), while 8tracks is blaring some random platinum playlist through the TV all while I am still casually drifting off to Facebook or Instagram on my mobile.

Everything we do is dominated by an everlasting (God forbid) connection to some mystical beast we call the Interwebs. This is also exactly where my demons found their roots. They’re savagely attacking my already brittle psyche and, truth be told, I’m feeding them. My highs and lows are a near perfect sine wave and the most recent fueling low is quite simple really.

An old friend from school posted a screenshot of his ticket to London in August. “Contiki here I come” he says while he is supposed to be at work, doing engineer-y things just like the rest of us. But no, Mister here is flaunting that he gets to go on a holiday. I just had to ask myself why it upsets me this much.

Is it because I am deathly frustrated with work being incredibly tedious? Is it because I don’t believe Mister here deserves the opportunity? Or is it because I’m jealous of him being able to go? Or am I maybe even angry at the factors in my life preventing me from doing something similar?

I think there’s truth in all of these statements. I think we’re ever so connected that we constantly compare ourselves to the people we follow, even if they’re average people no different from us. There is constantly someone in a seemingly better position than us. A friend living the dream teaching English in South Korea. Another one flying Boeings in Belgium. I’m not even going to mention those who get to study at highly acclaimed universities on the other side of the globe.

We’re bombarded with all the good things in other peoples’ lives and we forget that this is a perfect example of the iceberg phenomena. Social media sure as hell doesn’t show the darkness. It conveniently skips the loneliness of everyday life. It forgets about things and people we really care about. The ratrace migrated from the tangible and manifested itself as an omnipotent deity.

Apparently up to 30% of millennials identify as being not-religious. They consciously choose to not believe in some form of supernatural being(s), yet most (if not all) of them worship this social media god, me included.

This begs me to start some introspection. Am I really going to allow myself to be constantly unhappy because the phenomenal parts of someone else’s life overshadow the daily parts of mine? Or am I going to do what I do best and continue building my designer life?

It’s a tough choice and I’m not convinced it’s one we can make easily, since we’ve obliterated individuality. I think we’re approaching an inflection point, but that’s a topic for another day. The bottom line is I honestly believe we must reclaim our individuality.

We need to choose to have people and things which make us happy in our lives. We need to accept that other people will have different opportunities in theirs. We need to focus on the beautiful around us. We need to be thankful for the things we don’t even notice.

I’m not trying to sound like a motivational guru or anything – I’m merely trying to make sense of how to get out of my lows not if, but when they inevitably do happen. For me it’s really quite simple. Pouring my words out into the infinity of ones and zeros helps. Spending time completely disconnected reading a book (INFP FTW) helps. Having clear and quantifiable realistic goals helps. Accepting my imperfections is crucial.

I guess the point I’m trying to make is that we are all individuals. Yes, we live in a world where we constantly compare ourselves to other people, but we shouldn’t define our self-worth at hand of that. We need to embrace our uniqueness and enjoy our own phenomenal highs when they do come around. We should grant other people their wins and be happy for them.

Nothing beats the satisfaction gained by wishing others well.