Scrolling Through Life
I never make the first move.
I stay seated until I’m called upon, I speak when it’s my turn, and I stand and follow the line. These are the qualities that were engrained in me as a child. Some children need to be reigned in by rules to learn this sense of authority, but school only enhanced these “well-behaved” habits for me.
Whether it’s my nature, nurture, or a combination of both, I tend to follow the rules and expectations that are laid out for me. I crave structure and following a path that has measurable outcomes along the way. So being successful in school reinforced the mentality that the only way to find success was by pursuing a path that other people deemed worthy.
I was raised with attending college as the end goal. Every struggle or difficult task I faced at school needed to be overcome in order to reach that goal. I never questioned what I was being taught, or if I even enjoyed it, because school was just a means to an end.
I had to do well in middle school in order to take more challenging classes in high school, which would raise my GPA so that I could attend a reputable college. When really the main purpose of college was just to put it on my resume so that future employers would hire me.
This was how my world worked. Thus I stayed in line and on track so that I could achieve the success I’d been brought up to believe. But as I’ve come to realize, this system of success is fabricated. Still, I’m stuck with the long-held beliefs and patterns of my past that only allow me to feel successful if I’m following a “path”. As much as I want to rid myself of this mentality, it’s engrained in me. Now I feel stuck on the sidelines because I can’t see what real success looks like for me.
Since starting Reunite with You I’ve been scared of success. I’m scared that it won’t take off, that it’ll take too long to thrive, or that I can’t maintain it once it does. Now that I’m finally putting my energy into creating something that I love, it’s terrifying to think about the “what if’s”.
For the longest time I hesitated to share what I created for fear of success -or lack thereof. What if no one even reads it, what if no one relates to it, what if all of my time and effort are useless? It was easier to not know and keep the possibility of success or failure to myself – to stay on the sidelines.
I was still stuck in my schooling mentality. Since there wasn’t a clear path or boxes to check, how can I create future success without a plan of action? Am I supposed to slow down, speed up, or stand still? Do I stay in alignment with who I am now or where I want to be? There were so many questions rushing through my mind that kept me stunned, too afraid to make any moves.
I was paralyzed by the potentials and didn’t believe I had the skills needed to succeed. It took a new year’s resolution of maintaining an action focused mentality and taking an online personal growth course to give me the boost I needed to enact real change. It was a reminder of everything I already knew I needed to do, but with a motivational kick. On the outside my life looked the same. I was still thinking, writing, and creating as I’d always done, but on the inside I was slowly starting to believe in myself -in my potential.
I stopped worrying about the outcomes and started enjoying the process. Who knows how long I’ll be living in this state of constant creation? Or how long I have to focus solely on myself and my goals? I began to feel fortunate for my situation instead of fearful. From then on, I chose to cultivate confidence and courage -with a hint of curiosity- in myself, instead of staying content in my “corner”. This new mentality allowed me to finally stop worrying or being scared of success.
For too long I saw success as the ultimate end goal, when really it’s just a destination. We spend most of our lives in the journey, so by constantly craving success we blind ourselves to true reward -time. The attainment of success and our celebration of achievements are brief moments. But what we do with our days -how we fill our time- is 99% of life and is what should really be used to determine our “success”.
Time is the true gift of life that we all seem to give away for free. It’s the most valuable resource we have because it’s finite and nonrefundable. Yet we’ve chosen to forget this fact and act as if there will always be more. We know there’s not, but because we’re human we avoid the reality of what this means –our death. So time stays untouchable since we’re unwilling to come to terms with the ultimate end.
While it seems easier to live in denial -especially while we’re young- we end up depriving our future selves. If we fail to accept the truth of our mortality, we’ll always be living a lie. And if we live most of our lives as a lie, what does that say about the quality of our character? Will we ever know what we really want out of life if we never consider our end goal?
What makes life worth living is the fact that all life ends, so we better make the most of it while we can. Most of us have heard this before, but have we let it sink in? Perhaps it’s too difficult to place ourselves on our death bed and imagine our regrets. Or maybe we’re too focused on living for today and not worrying ourselves with tomorrow’s problems. Either way, we tend to ignore the reality of what we spend our time on. It’s one thing to plan out the future or create goals for ourselves. But in order to make our time “worthwhile” we must do more than think or act. We must evaluate the quality of our everyday lives.
There are many tasks in our day that must be done -no passes given. So the spare time that we do have should go towards something that we truly enjoy and benefits us. But nowadays it usually just goes to technology.
Before deciding how to approach this topic, I wanted to better educate myself on the reality of its impact. I’m no saint when it comes to social media or banning myself from binge watching. I’ve accumulated online and entertainment indulgences over the years since growing up in the boom of electronic advancement. While some interests have faded, I feel obligated to the rest.
Once you’re latched onto a new series, site, stream, or app it’s hard to release its enticing grasp. Yet the span and depth of its grasp is astonishing. Just from a brief search I found that an average person in 2020 spent nearly 2.5 hours on social media out of an overall daily content consumption time of 7 hours. For most of my adolescent and adult life I was this average person.
I started my days by scrolling through my favorite sites, I spent any downtime at work checking my phone, I would binge watch shows after work and dinner, then I’d fall asleep with one last scroll. If I tried to total it all up I’m sure I met or exceeded the 7 hour mark daily. This was my routine, but it didn’t bring me joy.
I rarely fell asleep with a real sense of accomplishment or excitement. Instead I was still following the steps for societal success and escaping into an alternate reality every day. To me it was my reward for working. So I was allowed to zone out and forget about my struggles so that I could survive societal life. I was unconsciously finding ways to prevent myself from feeling the truth – I wasn’t happy, I wasn’t fulfilled, and I wasn’t being me.
This is what woke me up. I realized that no matter how much I distracted myself, I couldn’t silence this voice of change. It’s the voice from college that told me I deserved more, the voice that said to move to Sweden, and it’s the voice that inspired Reunite with You.
We all have this voice inside of us. The voice doesn’t contemplate and it doesn’t hesitate. It knows what you need to do because it’s the true you. But the voice can be suppressed and silenced through endless escapism.
I was exhausted by constantly finding ways to quiet the inner noise. Because once I was listening to my voice and living each day with purposeful activities that brought me joy, I slowly stopped checking social media and binge watching TV. I no longer needed the deep distraction of entertainment because I was entertained by myself, my hobbies, and what I was creating.
While this autonomy from technology may seem like a fantasy or some far-off goal, it’s gradually become my reality. I’ve chosen to stop scrolling through my life and start living in depth instead.
What are you more afraid of, rejection or regret? When I came across this question it put everything into perspective for me. I’d been sitting on the sidelines and scrolling through life. Maintaining but never really moving. This had been my reality for so long that I hadn’t considered there was another way.
Once I took the leap and began investing in my interests, I realized that I would never be content if I settled for the societal life. I was finally living life to the fullest. So now I can’t go back to the shallow end because I’ve been exposed to the depths of how limitless I am.
Whether or not I succeed in manifesting my dreams, I won’t die with regret because at least I tried. I looked fear in the face, swallowed my shyness, and boldly became who I wanted to be. Being anything else than that now would just be a waste. And I’ve wasted so much time already by never making moves and staying content in the societal cradle.
But this is my truth from experiences in my life and the lessons I had to learn. And that truth led me to my mission: “I want to give people a spark of sunshine. A jolt of joy. A taste of togetherness. A piece of peace.” I want to inspire others to recognize the shell that they’ve been living in and break out of it into their true authenticity. Life is too short to be anything else than the real you!
We might not all be able to follow our dreams, but we can choose to spend the downtime we have engaging in our passions. Not everything we do needs to be productive, it just needs to produce an ounce of happiness in us.
We are living in a time where mindless distractions and escaping the world are daily temptations. It’s easier to scroll and binge than absorb and digest. But where does that leave us? Feeling jealous, bored, empty, and numb.
Sitting on the sideline of life and saying that we’ll get around to making a change someday is our default mode -it’s passive. It’s guaranteed regret. So when we choose rejection over regret we’re choosing progression over stagnation, movement over maintenance, and possibility over certainty.
It doesn’t matter how you define success. You can’t reach it if you never take a chance or make a change. While this may be easier said than done, the intention behind the words can be powerful on their own.
Before I could change my actions I had to change my thoughts, and in order to change my thoughts I had to change the feelings I gave to those thoughts. Once I put more energy and emphasis into thoughts of growth and change, I was better able to believe in, thus act on, them. It’s a simple chain reaction. But if we never intervene in the process we’ll just keep repeating the same stagnant cycle.
As wonderful as it would be, we’ll never wake up one day as a completely different person living a completely ideal life. It can’t -and won’t- happen overnight. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t plant seeds and take small steps towards our envisioned success. We are the roots of change. So why wait!
Even though I restarted my life at a time when most people my age are settling down and starting a family, I knew I didn’t have to be like most people. While on the outside it may look like a setback, I know that I’m really just setting myself up for a future that’s bigger and better than the societal one I would’ve settled for. Just take a step back, re-examine success, and reprioritize time. Then you’ll see beyond the surface and dive deeper into the depths of real success -you.
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