In my blog ‘Urban Trends in Amsterdam: Embracing the Guilt Economy’ I reflect on some lifestyle choices that reveal our hesitance to give in our comfort for the sake of current issues. In this blog, I share my thoughts on a question that is raised regularly and which I also ask myself: do we as millennials hold to an unrealistic ambitions and how can we cope with it?
In the age of social media and ever-increasing societal pressures, millennials often find themselves navigating a complex landscape of expectations. We pursue ambitious career goals, while aiming to be independent; we don’t want to work under a boss, however, being an entrepreneur means a lot of hard work and extended hours. But we also want to have a healthy work-life balance. We want to take care of ourselves, not only physically, but, you know, like the influencers on Youtube and Instagram. From morning rituals, that include waking up very early in the morning, meditating, journaling, with a lit candle and a nice cup of tea of course. We want to be a good friend, a supportive partner, and loving family member, so we want to invest quality time with our loved ones. And then not to forget, we still want to explore and have fun, so we want to travel and not miss out on social events. But is this even possible as a human-being? Is this phenomenon unique to our generation, or has it always been like this? And do these unrealistic expectations take a toll on millennial’s mental health?
THE PRESSURE OF SOCIAL MEDIA
One of the driving forces behind the perceived demand for perfection among millennials is the omnipresence of social media. Platforms like Instagram and Facebook showcase limited glimpses into the lives of influencers, often emphasising the positive aspects while omitting the struggles. Moreover, social media allows us to be continuously aware of the activities that we might be missing, leading to a sense of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out). The constant exposure to these curated narratives can create a distorted reality, fostering unrealistic expectations for perfection.
STRATEGIES TO KEEP REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS
There are some strategies that I apply to remind myself of my reality, which- unlike the reality on social media – has limitations for what is feasible.
Take a break from social media. This might be too obvious, but it’s crucial. Detoxing from social media allows us to reconnect with reality, stepping away from the virtual realm and immersing ourselves in the genuine beauty and imperfections of the world. This break is essential for regaining perspective, aligning our lives with realistic standards rather than the filtered reality presented on social platforms. Consciously stepping back and living in the present enhances contentment with our actual lives.
Update your following. Being mindful of who you follow is another key practice. While social media can be a source of learning and inspiration, it’s crucial to curate a list that adds value to your life. Regularly reassess and unfollow individuals who don’t contribute positively to your worldview and inspiration. A thoughtfully chosen list of people to follow can make social media a beneficial space for self-improvement.
Write down your goals. Starting each year with a vision board is a practice I find valuable. Visualisation aids in focusing on different aspects of life, helping me prioritise and keep expectations realistic. For example, this year, I included starting a blog as my main creative goal. Although I also love drawing, and designing, writing down my goals and ambitions help me to focus, which helps to keep my expectations realistic.
Cultivate a close circle of friends and family. Transparent conversations with people that you trust and love is so valuable to realise that everybody has their own struggles and insecurities. Because we don’t like to show our insecurities on a daily basis. And this is why it is extremely helpful to have people who you share a part of you that you may not be proud of. You will see that nobody is doing perfect in every aspect of live, which is a powerful reminder.
Accept yourself, including your flaws. This might sound cliché, but being gentle with oneself is crucial. Not excelling in every pursuit is a part of being human. Avoid undue pressure and view moments of self-reflection as opportunities to reassess priorities. You cannot excel in every aspect of life. Use your feeling as a healthy moment for reflection.
In a world where possibilities seem endless, especially when viewed through the lens of social media, it’s easy to fall into the trap of setting unrealistically high ambitions. This mindset often leads to expectations that are challenging to meet in the complex tapestry of real life. By acknowledging the beauty in embracing imperfections and adopting strategies that foster authenticity and self-compassion, millennials can forge a path of personal growth that aligns with their unique aspirations. Let’s reclaim success on our terms and celebrate the imperfect journey of self-discovery.