In society nowadays, we are constantly assaulted by the media.
With pressures to achieve arbitrary economic, social and academic goals to be considered ‘worthy’ or productive. We are conditioned to define our self worth in terms that aren’t things we would otherwise necessarily prioritise. Or in fact, even recognise that we ‘lacked’. In a world with so many ways to fail or be labelled as something. Sometimes we take a step back and inevitably wonder, once we peel away these pressures, what we’re worth, but who we are.
Remember when you were in grade school and you were an advanced reader, regularly played for your local soccer team? And didn’t have to worry about clothes or money or what your very existence ‘meant’ to other people? You didn’t hear the voices of society telling you where to go or what to be. We hear them now.
We are implicitly told that it is important to be ambitious; to reach higher for a promotion for your dream job.
And constantly be vigilant about ways to elevate your economic and social position to gain a greater sense of satisfaction and self worth. The same is true of academic pursuits, where you are constantly pushed higher and higher and spread increasingly thin and ushered out of anything resembling your comfort zone. Achieving top marks is no longer an unlikely hope but the expectation. The average is no longer a statistic but the ‘bare minimum’ to simply break even into the threshold of what is normal and accepted. Oh dear, it’s starting to pile up isn’t it?
If the ends justify the means to accomplish these increasingly out of reach goals, then we sacrifice ourselves and individuality to attain goals that are actually in the governing social interest more than our own. It’s always in the government’s interest to have a productive, talented and competitive labour-force, but it’s rarely in ours. To be in the mindset that in order to have a sense of worth or public value, we must belong to society as a mindless cog in a machine. Constantly producing output or pushing ourselves, is not only toxic but unsustainable.
Even in our leisure time we are guilted.
Feeling the need to consume ‘high’, sophisticated entertainment or literature, learning a new language, travelling or ‘improving’ ourselves to in turn better wider society. We aren’t allowed to simply relax and unwind without it being perceived as lazy or ‘wasted’ time. This leads to us being estranged from who we truly are: individuals with unique and valuable worth. We constantly find ourselves demotivated or unproductive, and that doesn’t mean we have failed or are inadequate, it just means we’re not interested or engaged in certain tasks. And we shouldn’t have to force ourselves to be! Our worth is inherent and cannot be improved or compromised by the hobbies we take up or the job we have.
There’s a great quote from Man of Steel, where Clark Kent’s adopted mother provides these words of wisdom: “You don’t owe this world a thing. You never did”, which we would do well to remember. We don’t all need to be Superman, and we are all worthy simply in who we are, even if that means watching Keeping up with the Kardashian reruns on a Sunday morning in our pjs.