Just wanted to let you know I have officially started querying for Machine and also for a couple short stories. It’s a terrifying experience to thrust my work out there, but I also believe it is ready and that I have the talent to do this. I’ll be sure to keep you updated on where that all goes.
Now, on to the meat of this post.
I was talking with a friend of mine yesterday about millenials. He was explaining how he really doesn’t care much for technology (more power to him) even to the point of not wanting a cell phone and the topic took a turn towards millenials and our addiction to technology. He included both of us in that group in a part-of-this-age-group-but-not-part-of-this-group kind of way, but apparently doesn’t know me well enough to know I am myself fairly addicted to technology and fit much of the criteria he listed off for millenials, which I found both convicting and oddly flattering. Some of the things he included were things like needing constant praise, not being able to take care of ourselves and generally thinking everything ought to be given to us without being able to do that much on our own. This obviously doesn’t apply to all of our generation, but it got me thinking about why we are that way (for those of us who are, which does include me to a certain extent, because a lot of the time I feel like I really do lack like, 89% of life skills needed to survive on my own) and what can be done about it.
I think a big chunk of the problem is that our society puts way too much pressure on performance. We think if you are *this* enough, if you do *this* at *this* level, if you obtain *this* level of fame, if you have *this* many facebook friends or likes or followers, then you are valuable. Then you matter. So, naturally, what do parents do? Protect their children. Make it easy for them to reach those levels. If you have to accomplish this many things to be valuable, then make things easy to do. Hold their hands to make sure they obtain that success and applaud them with a participation ribbon if even that doesn’t work.
And I think, how very, very silly.
Because here’s the thing. Do you exist? Then you matter. We have this strange understanding that you’re only worth something if you do something, like the fact that you are alive and breathing isn’t valuable in itself. I mean, we all know human life is valuable, but then why do we treat it like it’s not? Why are we mean to each other? Why do we have this standard that value is determined by what you mean personally to other people? Or by what you make or sell? Or how much money you have? How sexy, thin, attractive or personable you are? How well you do at your job?
If we taught people that they have value for no reason beyond the fact that they are, would they not have confidence enough to render hand-holding unnecessary? If we taught them that they are inherently valuable and that the things they do are merely a part or outpouring of–and not source of–that value, would they not be more willing to take risks? I know for me that part of why I feel like I need a head pat whenever I do something right is because I’m insecure. I’m getting more confident in myself as time goes by, but there are certain things I still won’t risk (freestyle dancing, taking risks at work, as examples) because I’m so terrified of stupid things like looking like a moron or bruising my image. There’s still this big chunk of me that wants to scream and cry and sleep in a sock drawer for days whenever I fumble a social situation or mess up at work. I’m so scared my image as a writer, as a christian, as an employee, as a dancer, as a good friend as whatever else I or others think of me as will be damaged if I fail. My identity gets so caught up sometimes in maintaining those levels of perfection that the slightest dip in affirmation crumbles my entire sense of worth.
This is entirely preposterous of me. I am such a silly, foolish human being.
But I am valued. I am valuable. I have an identity and purpose and reason for existing that nothing and nobody can take away.
And that’s amazing.
So, here’s me. Straight talk. Let’s encourage each other. Let’s remember that other people are valuable. Let’s try not to get caught up in the idea that what we do or how others see us is what makes us matter.
And, just so we’re clear, I’m not saying that working hard is bad. I’m not saying trying to meet goals or looking nice or making money is terrible or evil. I’m just saying not to make that your source of worth. Cause those things won’t last forever, but your inherent value always will. 🙂