“If you can dream it, you can do it.”
“Just do it.”
There are so many messages in American culture saying that you can be a success. It’s the foundation of the American dream. Pull yourself up by your bootstraps. The Puritan work ethic. The land of opportunity. We loves us a rags-to-riches tale. It’s intoxicating to get into the “I can do anything!” mode. Hopefully you do experience that frequently. It can be very motivating, and when you take advantage of such bursts of inspiration, you can make great strides in your life.
That does not mean that you will become the next CEO of Apple, though. The stars do in fact need to align in order for great success to be bestowed on a person, and for most of us, that just does not happen.
In 2011 we blahgged about the tension between skill and luck. Here’s a more recent opinion piece from a major newspaper with the title, “No, honey, you can’t be anything you want to be.” It’s written for parents, saying that they’re doing their children a disservice when they tell them that they can grow up to be anything. The author seems a bit jaded but her point is well taken.
(Please note that we called it an “opinion piece.” Despite the fact that the author cites Harvard studies and academics in the article, and it appears in a major newspaper, it’s not journalism. In this Internet media age, it’s easy to mistake one for the other. Always consider the source.)
EssaySnark is a huge fan of dreaming big and going for it. We hope that’s why you’re here, too. Because you want to make something of your life.
You have everything going for you.
The world says you should be able to go out and conquer it.
And why not? What else are you going to do with your life?
Find your calling, and be called.
Get up off the couch and go do it.
Whatever could be wrong with that?
Well, we do find that there is something wrong with it, at times.
We see plenty of people being dissatisfied with where they’re at.
Maybe they don’t show it. Not outwardly, at least. You wouldn’t notice their dissatisfaction, if you weren’t looking.
But we believe that lots of people out there are soul sick. And we believe one critical cause of this is comparison syndrome.
When you’re constantly looking out at others and seeing where they’re at, then it’s easy to get down on yourself and not feel that you’re good enough.
When everyone is self promotional on Facebook and Instagram and trying to convince everybody else at how hot they are and how perfect their lives are and how they even take vacation better than you do, then it’s easy to feel inferior on the inside. Even if you’re not admitting it to anyone.
This phenomenon is especially pronounced at bschool. The whole FOMO thing is part of it. There’s also a constant jockeying for position and status, and lots and lots of posturing. Everyone who gets into a top MBA program is pretty much by definition hot shit. It can be really demoralizing when you’re suddenly surrounded by gobs and gobs of hotter shits than yourself. (Or at least, hot shits who are projecting their hotness as hotter than yours.) It can spawn all sorts of self-doubt. Maybe your shit’s not so hot after all? You can end up in a pretty nasty cycle of depression and elation – elation when you land something “good” (or at least bragworthy) and depression when you come up short and something happens that you want to keep secret and not let anyone know about. (Like, not making it into the bschool that you thought you were going to get into. Yeah, we know, that hurts in so many ways.)
A New York Times article about narcissism offers this semi-related tidbit:
The 18th-century French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau wrote about “amour-propre,” a kind of self-love [narcissism] based on the opinions of others. He considered it unnatural and unhealthy, and believed that arbitrary social comparison led to people wasting their lives trying to look and sound attractive to others. [emphasis added]
So our culture today spurs you into this goddamn hamster wheel of anxiety. You run the risk of completely mis-evaluating your own worth and getting super depressed about it (depressed people often have trouble taking action in their lives so this can be debilitating); or, you spin out in the opposite direction and gain all your self-worth from the approval of others, and end up an obnoxious twerp.
Hmmmm. EssaySnark has managed to veer off on a diatribe about the state of society and blasted social media blah blah blah way too many words and not what we had started off intending to say….
We will pick up on this in a new attempt tomorrow (POSTED HERE).