Updated: Nov 21, 2019
"'Fun' is the product of our value hierarchies. When we stop valuing something, it ceases to be fun or interesting to us. Therefore, there is no sense of loss, no sense of missing out when we stop doing it. On the contrary, we look back and wonder how we ever spent so much time caring about such a silly, trivial thing, why we wasted so much energy on issues and causes that didn't matter. These pangs of regret or embarrassment are good; they signify growth. They are the product of our achieving our hopes" - Mark Manson in his book EVERYTHING IS F*CKED (Manson 57)
The idea of attending a prestigious university far away from home lost its "fun" appeal when I stopped valuing it. That is not to say that the university is bad or the people are bad. The university is great and I made some of my best friends there. Being on my own on a grand adventure far away from home and high school seemed like so much fun during my senior year of high school and during the summer before going to college. However, my value hierarchy changed. Or rather, I started to examine my value hierarchy. I started to ask myself what I wanted to do with this life I have been given.
In order for you, the reader, to understand why this quote means so much to me I have to reveal my inner reflections. A psychologist once told me that hypochondriacs' fears are substitutes for something greater. In other words, my anxiety about finding meaning in this life, achieving something great, and making my family/friends proud of me has manifested itself in fears of dying and leaving my loved ones behind. My existential anxiety has become an inner crisis of hope.
I think it necessary to talk about hope now. Mark Manson, the author of the quote above, says that you need three things in order to feel hope. Those three things are values, self-control, and community (Manson 82). For most of my life, my value hierarchy has centered around academics, extracurriculars, and getting a job that makes me a lot of money. Once I started asking myself what I am doing with my life and what matters most to me I realized that my value hierarchy needs to be centered around my family, my friends. and a job that I enjoy but also enables me to support my family. When it comes to school I like to think I have good self-control. I get my assignments done on time. I study hard and get good grades. I go to bed at a decent hour to make sure I am well rested for tests and presentations. I also have a great community of friends who would do anything for me. I put so much emphasis on being a good student, getting good grades, going to a great school, and succeeding at that school that it became my identity. In a way, I lost my sense of who I was and who I wanted to be. I know it sounds cliché but it's true. I never truly considered who I wanted to be outside of school. The task for me at hand is to discover who I want to be when I am done with college. I need something that will keep me inspired, keep me creative, and push me to think critically. I think I have found that in photography, in writing, and in digital content creation (YouTube and Twitch). Photography keeps me inspired, writing keeps the creative juices flowing and pushes me to think critically. Streaming allows me to connect to an audience faster than I can through selling photos and writing blogs. I have put a lot of effort into these three things but I have not endured the process, rather, I have enjoyed the process. Enjoying the process of creating is of the utmost importance to me.
I want to end this blog with a thought that has been in my head for the past couple weeks. It is the idea of being average. I have found great consolation in just being average. I am working on letting go of the idea that I need to be the best in everything that I do. I do not mean that I will cease to put effort into the things that I do. I will continue to work hard and put forth my best effort, However, I am learning that it is perfectly acceptable to be YOU. It is perfectly acceptable to be who you are not who people want you to be. I probably won't solve world hunger but that is OKAY. If by being myself I motivate others through my writing, move someone with my photography, or make someone laugh because of my digital content then I am perfectly happy with being who I am.
I am not an expert...this blog post is merely an interpretation of my past experiences with the help of a book I am reading.
Mark Manson's Book:
Manson, Mark. Everything Is F*cked: A Book About Hope. Harper Luxe, a Trademark of Harper Collins Publishers, 2019.