From the day we are born we are taught to be successful, smart and brilliant, but enjoy life at the same time. To share, but fight for what we want at the same time. To enjoy, be happy and go about our days with ease. To work hard, because only hard work pays off.
We are taught we need to ‘seize the day’ and then we are told that it’s done by not caring about tomorrow. To be ambitious, hard-working and perfect at what we do, but then again, not to worry too much.
(Related reading: Success Has a Problem with Definition)
And so we are slowly taught that these are the measures of the quality of life—so many measures. But with that we learn to hide our true self — the one that’s not a robot aimlessly chasing the goals of the collective. The one that doesn’t think that the posts and the likes and the title you got for your last promotion will bring fulfilment.
Hiding the self doesn’t mean it’s not there. It’s been bubbling up inside and coming out in all the wrong ways. Anxiety, depression, panic attacks, addictions, anger, rage, hopelessness — just the most obvious ones.
And there are also the less apparent ones—no less destructive, though. What about the ruins of our relationships? Ruptures we cause without even knowing. Or sometimes knowing but not caring. Thinking it’s not our fault and ending up blaming someone else. Pitifully waiting for things to change; relying on others to come as our saviours; giving in on the outside but raging inside.
And what about excessive ambition and success—so much that you cannot get enough, but not really needing it anyway. The strive for social acceptance. Ah, once you’re out there it’s surely so easy. How does this increase the quality of life? Or is it the definition of the quality and the life that is distorted? Are we trying to convince someone of something—with ourselves being the hardest person to convince?
Fooling ourselves that we got burned out because our bodies couldn’t take it when it’s our psyche that is cracking. Why do we fall into despair after we get that promotion we have so long been waiting for? Is there anything beyond the next goal we have? Is it nothing or is it another goal?
These are all deceptions we put up to deceive others. But we deceive others to decisive ourselves. Luckily sometimes we learn that controlling the world or the people around us won’t help our happiness. It will just get us by—survive. It will not calm us, reduce our anxiety and mend our relationships. It will not fill the void or bring the past back. The place where inspirational quotes and motivational speeches don’t work.
This is where the only thing left to change is us…