Change is something that a restless soul like me is constantly seeking; never content with what is currently in play, the grass is always greener etc, etc. No matter how green and rich the current pasture is, this Billy Goat Gruff is always looking over the bridge at the next field. It’s not only yonder field that’s appealing, it’s also the bridge itself. It’s about the challenge and the sense of achievement that is hoped, will come with it. The sense of achievement is always an anti-climax; never felt by me to the full extent as is first assumed. Perhaps that’s why I’m constantly pushing myself harder and further in the hope that one day the feeling of true fulfilment will be realised.
This want of change and more specifically the desire to be constantly moving forward in my life stems from two identifiable roots, both of which are entirely unrelated. The first being my mother, cliché I know. Like any good mother she has always wanted the best for me and encourages me to strive as hard I can, partially through leading by example. She herself is also a Billy Goat Gruff, frequently looking for new pastures to roam through. She’s recently decided to sell her house and buy a campervan; planning on not really having a plan and “to do a bit of travelling”. I hope she finds what she is looking for but I fear that once she moves to the other side of that bridge, she will gaze back and see her previous enclosure as a more attractive option.
The second root is social media, perhaps a slightly strange notion but bear with me while I elaborate. Recent studies by researchers from two German Universities reveal that skimming through photos of friends’ life accomplishments can elicit feelings of envy, misery and loneliness. The scientists studied 600 people who logged time on social network and discovered that one in three felt worse after visiting the site. Facebook frequenters who spent time on the site without posting their own content were also more likely to feel dissatisfied.
With me it feels as though facebook is nagging me to try and be more interesting. The culture of constant updates puts me under pressure to find something new to share with the world and thus take on a rapid rate of transformation and renovation.
This generation of narcissism has taken a powerful grip over our lives, it consumes and shapes our desires, structures consciousness and clutters the landscapes of daily life. It consumes a large part of our public space and invades and exposes our private space. It exhausts our time, our passions, our energy and even our mental health. It displaces civic engagement and intimate interaction. It has changed our whole culture and the way we socialise and also compels us to change and adapt in the attempt to seem successful and appealing to the outside world.
Some people may read this article and say that in itself is an example of self-absorption. It’s about me; full of personal pronouns and the reason I write is not based on enjoyment especially, but the need to be doing something productive, moving forward and gaining recognition. At least I am able to support my argument, even if in doing so I am portraying myself as being of a narcissistic inclination.
The first time I realised that I wasn’t entirely content on this path of empty success was at a Buddhist centre where my father was in temporary residence. Sipping some herbal tea on a bench outside the ‘Tibetan Tea Rooms’, my mind was a tangled thread with an underlying jangle of nerves.
I was in the midst of final year exams at uni, stressing over some event I was organising, angsting about finding sponsorship for an internship alongside a squillion other minor anxieties. I took my head out of my hands and caught sight of a soundbite of wisdom from the inimitable and most revered Dalai Lama. He said to me in that moment:
“Instead of focusing on developing your mind, why not focus on developing your heart because that is where true happiness can be found.”
It had a profound effect on me for about five minutes until my mind,power-hungry and strong, took control again in the driver’s seat of my must do, must go, must achieve, race car of life.
However an internal revolution is gathering momentum on the back of my latest achievement; the sweet children’s book I recently published. A goal I had envisaged which would be achieved through a creative, artistic and wholly joyful experience; that is not what the minefield of publishing pitfalls presented. It was a stress-ridden nightmare which accounted for many nights of lost sleep which meant that when everything eventually came together, the sense of achievement was absent. I felt nothing but slight relief.
So why continue along this path of little gratification? Maybe I’m too scared of making a real change, or possibly, not to be doing something, which gains recognition, might seem like failure. It doesn’t seem like I am alone in my discontent. It’s continually being reported that a large proportion of the so-called lost-generation is suffering from an identity crisis. Increasing pressures stemming from social media, plus the immense difficulty of actually achieving anything, in the current economic climate, results in dissatisfaction and frustration, en masse.
Hollie Weatherstone is a regular contributor to the3rdimagazine. hollieweatherstone.blogspot.com