You go to school, you get all A’s, you came in last in the School sports day but it’s ok because you still got a participation award. You get out of University with your 1st class honours degree and BOOM you realize that it doesn’t mean much and you can’t just walk in to a 401K career where you make an “impact” overnight.
Sound familiar. I was talking with my Mum recently about my own anxiety and she said that my generation is one of the most depressed and anxiety-ridden generations ever, yet we have such incredible technological advances at our fingertips, we have good jobs but we’re miserable and were attached to a vague concept of “making an impact”. We’re not entirely sure what that impact should be and how to make it but we want it, perhaps slightly selfishly too since we know that making a good impact on society will bring fame, fortune and adoration. We also don’t want to wait or work too hard for that end goal and if we don’t get it quickly we quit.
Part of this issue is the “participation award” syndrome that kids get in school now. There’s 1st place, 2nd place, 3rd place or gold, silver, bronze in the Olympics, there’s no “hey you didn’t place but great effort” trophy or medal. You just didn’t win. Better luck next time. This “participation award” syndrome simply sets you up for failure in the real world. I know I’m not saying anything new or groundbreaking here but it’s something that I’m noticing more and more.
We have anxiety and depression because we can’t find happiness in our jobs because we’re obsessed with making that $401k fear of housing markets being forever out of our financial reach, the Instagram algorithm is making our engagement tank and you’re constantly counting “likes” I’m guilty of these things too but I’m turning 32 next month and I have a loving husband, house and career; I’m unbelievably lucky and I never thought I’d have them by the age I am now. We can’t become Instagram famous or YouTube stars overnight, in most cases at all. By all means do it if it makes you happy but when you start to notice that the number of views or “likes” you get on a photo or video starts to negatively impact your mood or how you act then it’s time to take a step back and walk away and get back to finding joy in the little things in life.
Something that my Mum said really stuck with me; our Grandparents couldn’t entertain anxiety and depression because they were living through World Wars, every day that a doodlebug (bomb that made a loud noise going up and then the engine cut out and it was silent coming down) didn’t come through the roof was a gift. Our Parents came on the heels of that generation and they knew what their parents had been through with war and rationing so it threw things in to perspective. Please don’t take this out of context and think that I’m making light of Anxiety or Depression because I’m not; I am aware that both are caused by chemical imbalances in the brain, I’ve experienced Depression and I suffer from Anxiety myself and see a Counsellor for it but every day I’m trying to make sense of it and find things to be grateful for and happy about because at age 32 I’m not about to let the best years of my life with a Man who loves me go to waste.