Editor’s note: the original version of this article was first published on the C2C in 2010.
I often have this conversation with a best friend of mine. We both agree that the problem of our generation is not that we don’t have any opportunities, it’s really that we have too many. There are way too many options and there are way too many people telling us to take advantage of them. They seem to be saying, “You better make the right choice, choose the right opportunity, be the right person, because you only got one shot. And it’ll be gone before you know it.”
That’s the pressure that 20-somethings have to contend with, and this pressure leaves many calling this period of life: “The Quarter Life Crisis.” We live life as if every new moment is a single domino in a long, winding stack of dominoes, all interconnected, and we’re very careful and terrified if a domino we place down today should cause the whole thing to collapse, and at the end of our lives reveal a pattern that spells out: “FAIL.”
So, it isn’t strange that sometimes I do wonder whether writing is the right path for me. I sometimes will fall into The Quarter-Life Sink-Hole and start to thinking: wouldn’t it be better if I became a senator? Or an astronaut? An entrepreneur? An inventor? An activist? Or the first Latino President? Or a firefighter? Or a musician? Or…
None of this thinking is really serious, it all just serves to sabotage my belief in myself, and what I know is right for me.
Why Believing In Yourself Is More Important (And Less Cheesy) Than You Think
Modern society does a great job of subverting our own intentions for ourself. You watch a TV, or a Movie, or see it in a Magazine: a person stands tall and confident in who he or she is and what he or she chose to accomplish. And like little kids distracted by a shiny object, us Quarter Lifers automatically go: “Oooh! I wanna be that!”
Instead of saying, “Well, I’m happy for that person. It’s great what they’re doing, but what they’re doing is just not for me.”
But that’s not really how we we’re raised to approach things. We we’re raised to entertain every possibility as a real possibility for us. But so many possibilities can be overwhelming and cloud our eyes from what we really want to do, what we would still do even if no one else was watching us, judging us, praising us, or acknowledging us for doing it. For me that thing is writing, for you it might be something else.
This is the age of multitasking, of efficiency, of getting it all down at once, harder, faster, STRONGER! So it makes sense that we should feel pressured that even our personal lives and careers need to be practices in this crazy trend of multitasking. Hey, if JLo can act, sing, dance, and have best-selling fragrance, why can’t you? So we set unbelievably high expectations for ourselves, or we entertain far too many options that we would never have entertained in the first place if we simply had some time to really be with ourselves and listen to our own heart.
What would our heart tell us, if we listened to it?
What has my heart been telling me?
Well, first of all, I doubt many people are constantly getting a rush of stories ideas into their head, and I doubt such a thing would be useful to a politician, a firefighter, or even JLo. So… I say: ”Breathe Ollin. You are on the right track…. you know it… you just gotta believe in yourself.”
There are too many obstacles, roadblocks, and dangers on this road. I have to keep the wind at my back, or I’ll falter. There are too many other options, too many other people’s well-intended recommendations, too much of society’s expectations to have to contend with, and if I don’t got my own, then I’ll get lost in all of this.
I’ll lose my way, not because I doubted myself–I didn’t even give myself the chance to experience any doubt at all–because I didn’t take the very first act of courage: believing in myself.
You may think it’s elementary, but it’s vital. Everyone in this world can believe in you, but if you don’t, you just can’t make it. They’ll be too much in your way. Something far too large, insurmountable, gruesome, and unforgiving will block you. That something will be you. There’s no one far more bent on your destruction and unhappiness than you. But you are counting on the fact that you won’t realize this.
The hope is, once you do realize this fact, you can brush yourself aside, believe in yourself, and constantly remind yourself that it is this practice of believing in yourself that is more important than becoming a multitasking, efficient, jack-of-all-trades, 21st Century Machine. Keep the practice of believing in yourself daily, don’t drop it. It’s far more important than any exercise routine. You’re ability to live this life with joy will depend on it.
The “I Believe In Myself” Pledge
So, in honor of today’s practice in self-belief:
I, Ollin, believe in myself. And, one day, somewhere over the rainbow, my dreams will come true.
And so will yours.
Oh and by the way, since we’re talking about it…
I believe in you, too