Perhaps this is just a ‘me’ thing, but I always imagined what kind of speech I would give if I had the chance to address everyone in the world at the same time. Maybe I would be speechless, completely taken aback by the sheer magnitude of the task at hand. Maybe I would make people laugh or even cry.
If we’re being honest, I would probably cry out of overwhelming joy and gratitude for such an opportunity.
In a perfect address to the world, I would expose one truth – every living person has a purpose, whether they believe it or not. This has always been a belief of mine, but because the coronavirus pandemic resulted in non-negotiable hours of deep, introspective thinking, this truth has become more prevalent in my life. Before you hit the back arrow or close the tab, hear me out. Some statements are extremely uncomfortable to read, whether that be because you don’t believe them, you believe them too much or you want to believe them but can’t for some reason.
Throughout the next few paragraphs, we’re going to be uncomfortable together. I say ‘together’ because even though it seems like I understand, I haven’t learned to fully accept what I preach. We’re on the same page in the book of life, one that always has room for extra sentences about growth. I am by no means a mind-reader. It’s impossible to know what individual challenges plague you. However, what I can do is try to make sense of some ‘uncomfortable truths,’ henceforth opening your mind. Consider this a personal motivational speech, able to cater to whatever current hardships you might be experiencing or whatever crossroads you stand before.
I believe every problem humans experience results from fear. Fear of being authentically real, fear of not being good enough, fear of change, fear of disappointment, fear of disappointing, fear of truth, I could go on and on. It’s uncomfortable to face problems and uncomfortableness is a direct result of fear and an inability to open one’s mind.
What never fails to baffle me is that fear isn’t a unique experience. Read that again.
Fear is universal. And yet we never stop to talk about how much it paralyzes our actions and words. Never do we discuss how our society can attempt to heal. However, it’s imperative that we open these lines of communication and thinking. Why isn’t it mainstream to discuss a universal experience? Why is it taboo to speak about self-esteem issues or feelings of self-doubt?
My answer is this. Society built preconceived notions of what the ‘life experience’ should look like, largely enforced and widely spread through social media. We make ourselves sick trying to live up to the impossible standards that we create. The deterioration of the world’s mental health stems from these online versions of ourselves we deliberately and subconsciously falsify. The irony is that even those who realize what’s going on under the surface continue to enable their own downfall. I know I’m a culprit.
These false portrayals of ourselves are explained in sociologist Erving Goffman’s The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, published in 1959. His dramaturgical model of social life states that individuals are actively engaged in “impression management”, by ‘performing’ on a ‘stage’ during interactions with others. In other words, the unique personas we create through everyday ‘acting’ stem from our innate fear of exposing our true self and our innate fear of that ‘true self’ not being good enough for the outside world. By becoming aware and acknowledging the ways we falsely portray ourselves, we then begin to wake up to the realities of uncomfortable social interaction and realize that fear plays the main role in our personal theatrical productions.
Here’s some insight into my personal thought process.
If I’m on my deathbed, I don’t want my last thoughts to be filled with regret. I don’t want to wish that I had been more unapologetically ‘myself’ to those around me. I want to be thankful that I chose the path I wanted at the crossroads, not one forced upon me. Truthfully, I want to be reminiscent of a life that was lived to its fullest. I want to go happily.
Taking action follows being educated, so here’s a challenge. I implore you to take a step back and look at yourself before you resume endlessly running on the rat wheel of life when everything goes back to a relative normal. Try to look at yourself through the lenses of the people who care about you the most. The very moment you start to see yourself in a different, brighter light is the same moment in which you can finally start to pursue what you’ve always desired. And I don’t mean pursue what society tells you to desire. You can finally ask yourself two questions – ‘How do I want to live from now on- ignorant or awake to my potential?’ and ‘What do I really want to do with the limited time I was given?’
In reality, we have a choice. That choice is whether we want to continue to live in a society unaware of its flaws and its people’s flaws or live in a society aware of those flaws and forced to confront those flaws to achieve a higher level of metacognition and, eventually, self-efficacy. Amid quarantine, not only has the Earth been able to take a deep breath of cleansing air, but I have as well. Never in my life have I felt more sure of decisions, grounded to what I believe and proud and accepting of what I have accomplished thus far. I am no longer choosing to focus on trivial shortcomings usually amplified by my thoughts.
My wish is for everyone to feel the same sense of peace that I have been able to glimpse lately. I have a long way to go, but this is my formal invitation to join me in eye-opening self-discovery. It’s easy to write about and hard to execute, but if not now, then when? With that, I leave you to ponder. It’s been a pleasure to have even the smallest impact on your life. Always know your worth, acknowledge your fears and project the truest version of yourself to the world, especially when it becomes uncomfortable. I promise to do my best alongside you.