Output on the blog has slowed to a trickle. I don’t feel capable of giving advice. I haven’t figured it out. In fact, the depth of what I don’t know has me so overwhelmed that I’m wondering if I should open my mouth at all. When I read old posts like ‘dealing with depression’ I cringe. If it was so easy as I laid it out, why am I still so depressed? No. Life is not so simple. Sometimes band-aids may work but many a times intense soul-searching is needed. The last 1.5 years, have been tough on me. I had seen worse, but, was still not prepared for this. After one glass palace crumbled, I started questioning a lot I took for granted to check for other weaknesses. When you operate from a base, you are safe, you can question other aspects, but are still on solid ground. But, if you are questioning your base then it’ll lead to a lot of insecurity and low confidence. Some ideas I’ve been mulling over the last few months:
Facebook – I quit the social network last December after being active for 7 years. Over the last year I started observing a change in me. What started as a harmless place to share updates on your life and jokes somehow morphed into a gallery that I was playing to. I was more focused on what ‘image’ I was cultivating, how many were validating my posts (in extension my presence) with likes and comments, and was continuously searching to find something to hook my audience with. The change creeped in, inspite of being careful. It started bothering me when no one reacted to my posts. The more I saw the highlight reel of other’s life, the more dull my life seemed. I started to think even my highlights reel would not be as good as what I was seeing on the wall. Sanity prevailed sometimes, is life not dull? Do we go to trips/pubs/picnics every weekend? Do we interesting things to say everyday? I argued with myself. But, the instances I had to tell myself this became frequent. It also started to feel as if the ‘crowd’ was with me all the time, waiting for me to post something getting disappointed in me when there was nothing to post. The more I couldn’t post, the more dull my life seemed. Private, normal moments that I would’ve enjoyed were now lost on me. If it was not ‘marketable’ then it was simply dull and not worth it. I was unable to disconnect. As days progressed, I kept asking myself why I had to share my life with folks, 3/4 of whom I was pretty sure I won’t interact beyond a ‘hi’ when I meet them. The effort was not worth it. I stopped logging-in Facebook & deleted Instagram. (Who knew how much mobile data I could save with this one move). Have I made a mistake? I don’t know. Do I miss being in touch with folks I definitely would want to be in touch with, yes. But, was the effort worth it? Atleast for now, the answer is no.
Ambition – A few weeks back, I asked a couple of friends what they mean by ‘ambition’. The answer was common – it gives direction & purpose in life. Without it we wouldn’t know if our life amounted to something. Ambition, it felt, decided whether our existence had a meaning or not. Everyone should have direction in life, I agree. But, is having direction enough? Or should our strong desire to achieve something be quantified with goals? After all, what gets measured, gets managed, right? But, is ambition a goal-heavy-failure-inducing-Damocles-sword we hang on our necks voluntarily? Say, helping people is what I want to do, should I be content when I chose a vocation or past-time that supports that dream? Or should I turn that desire and quantify it with a ‘goal’ and say, I will help 1000 people this year? You can do either or both. But, many would argue having an ambition to help 1000 people is better. Why? because goals get measured and paid accordingly. Goals work well in work places. But, do they help or hinder in other aspects of life?
I think, as long as we can understand that ‘goals’ are arbitrary and not inflexible guideposts that decide if we have been ‘successful’ or not, they do not lead to depression or anxiety. But, as we spend a major portion of our waking lives at work and live in a culture of productivity where worth is defined by the wealth you create, it becomes difficult to be content with just having a direction. With quantifiable goals floating around, we instantly know who contributed more, who worked more, who achieved more, and by default who contributed less, who worked less, and who achieved less. If we are not the ones to achieve the maximum it is by default meant we are doing less than what we are capable of. We are rated lower in the social pecking order. So, is our self-esteem. All this, even without we voluntarily wanting to do any of this comparison. Working day-in and day-out has imprinted ‘competition’ on our minds so much. To not feel left behind we dangle more carrots, more goals, before ourselves.
So, now does ambition help or hinder? Do we now need to go easy with this word?