Define Your Meaning
The Big Picture
We have become first-hand witnesses to revolutionary change with the advent of the internet, smartphones, and social media. After the onset of the pandemic, life as we knew it was completely overhauled as we were forced to expedite the adoption of a tech-savvy world. Our growing dependency on technology has become evident, as the average amount of time spent staring at screens reaches nearly 8 hours per day - split between phones, computer screens, or television sets. This trend towards a screen-focused world has been readily supported by tech companies looking to capture even more of our attention, spending hundreds of billions on marketing, entertainment services, information analytics, and web development. While the advantages of these widespread technological achievements can serve as powerful tools of connection, creation, and education, it has become increasingly difficult to strike a balance.
As the curtains fell and the fever dream that was the pandemic came to an end, we all started rushing towards experiencing life as it was before. Filled with eager and desire, the pandemic left the economy ripe for overconsumption. After sitting at home busying ourselves with crafty DIY projects, newfound hobbies, and a declining mental health, we looked to spend stimulus checks on lavish vacations, luxury goods, and fine dining experiences. Now we are beginning to see the broad effects of these consumption habits and once again many of us are looking for comfort and stability.
Although the pandemic seemingly washed away two years of our lives, it forced many of us to sit with our thoughts and reflect. I realized that for far too long I have been encouraging myself with arbitrary metrics of success like professional titles, academic awards, and physical achievements. Finding that each time I accomplish any of these, I feel a moment of pure bliss. But then I sit down and find that I am not much fuller than before. Instead, I'm stuck fending off this incessant voice in my head demanding that I need to do more. While these tenets of success serve as good motivators, the pursuit of them has felt superficial. It feels as of I am mindlessly pursuing a dream built by so many others, without considering the needs and wants at my core. I become obsessed chasing down goals rather than using them as guiding principles. But in realizing my discontent I have been able to refine my meaning of success. For me it seems that all of these goals represent an underlying belief that I should be dependable, competent, and capable. The fulfillment is not found at the goal, but on the path paved in order to get there. It is this journey towards building up the foundational pillars of who I want to be that serve as the reward. This is not to say a goal should be diminished, as a matter of fact, I believe goals are imperative. They act as a compass pointing us in the right direction - helping us effectively achieve while preventing us from getting distracted. These titles, accolades, and wealth have only led me to become the person I want to be.
The reputation, the achievement, the wealth, are all affirmations of growth from the outside world to validate the type of person you are, but the only validation that really matters comes from within. Right now we find ourselves in a critical moment, imperceptibly bound to a decision on whether we should live in a world shaped by our perception or by a digital one meticulously crafted to constantly comfort us. The beauty is that we have the choice to shape the world through own eyes. Since we were children, we have been taught to look for the answer in the outside world. Exchanging our imaginative minds to fit within the structure of the collective reality. Especially with the onset of this technological era, we have become complacent to the reality shaped by others. Comforted by echo chambers intended to help us find connections with likeminded people, we have inevitably pocketed ourselves into their own ideologies. Inadvertently, I think this has led us to build a myopic view of the world. One that is either for your point of view or against it, painting reality as either black or white. But there is plenty more complexity to this world than our comfort allows. So are you willing to embrace the discomfort and embark on an adventure within to define who you really want to be?