Throughout my adolescent and teenage years, I’ve been searching for “myself”, so to speak. I’ve been looking for an identity I can comfortably slip into as I go about my daily affairs. The end result of this quest, hopefully, is happiness. I want to feel alive. I want to experience pure exhilaration. I want to enjoy what I’m doing. In high school, my teachers told me to “do what [I] love and [I’ll] be happy.” I always find that statement interesting, because it’s obvious. I’ve also found that it’s hard to do what you love when you’re not even sure what you like.
My life has been carefully constructed for me. I’m supposed to follow the plan. I’ve been told, since birth, that attaining a degree is a guaranteed path to success. I know that’s absurd. Nothing is ever guaranteed, but the odds of success (here defined as a life not characterized by paycheck-to-paycheck living) seem better with a degree than without one. I’m in school because I’m too terrified of failure to do anything else. Yet, I see the pattern of birth, school, work, and death, and I’m not sure I want it. I’m aware of modern society’s consumerism, and I’m revolted by it. I see how much we waste and take for granted, and I’m saddened by it.
Of course, I’d be a hypocrite if I rebuked any of the above activities. I’m a huge consumer. I get antsy when I can’t play The Sims (any version, I like them all) and the other day, when I accidentally deleted everything on my phone, I was crushed. I almost cried over an iPhone. An iPhone – something that is not at all essential to my survival, but for some reason I’ve convinced myself I need it. Then there’s the waste. Yes, I use paper plates and plastic forks when I don’t feel like doing the dishes. It’s a horrible habit that does terrible things to the environment, but it happens. I intend to stop, eventually.
The thing I’m trying to get at, though, is the fact that this version of life feels unfitting. Every day, I’m shrouded in a massive cloak of discomfort. I’m being honest with myself (and now the world) when I say I’m not suited to university life. I hate it. I’ve detested formal education for quite some time now. I deal with it, because it’s expected. The people of the Millennial generation are expected to get at least a bachelor’s – preferably a master’s – degree, take on debt, get a 9-to-5 and constantly spend their money on things they don’t need, thereby increasing their debt, sapping their resources, and creating a bubble of a false sense of security.
Our parents and the media tell us we need these things and we believe them because they’ve been around longer. Frankly, it feels like another form of slavery. It’s a type that fools us into believing we’re comfortable so we stay in our places. We’re cogs in a machine whose name and purpose is unknown to us.
I know I’m not the only one who feels this way; a quick scroll through the Humans of New York Facebook page tells me that. I also know I’m not going to be the first – or last – person to say something. What I don’t know is why, if so many people feel this way, we haven’t changed anything. I’m not telling everyone to quit school and join the circus (though, if that’s your thing, go ahead). I’m just saying we need to slow down and ease the pressure on ourselves and our progeny, or they’ll want nothing to do with us, if there’s even anything left of ourselves to give.
This article was written by Sarabi Eventide. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to get in touch.
Photo Credit: Nicole Chan