On Prestige

At some point in time, we’ve all wanted things that show the world our successes or our value. Things that communicate we’re unique. That we’re worthy of respect and admiration. That we’re better than others. That our life is great.

After all, life’s a competition. It’s a cornerstone of our education from the jump… parents comparing us to other kids, teachers comparing us to other students, bosses comparing us to other employees.

We were taught to define our worth by our accomplishments. But what qualifies as an accomplishment wasn’t up to us to define. We were told what accomplishments were…

That 100 / A+ / 4.0.

That first place trophy / medal.

That name brand college we got into.

That Fortune 500 company on our resume.

That title that sounds big and important.

That 6-figure salary.

That handsome boy / beautiful girl we’re dating.

That apartment in the sky.

That luxury car with more horsepower than you need.

That big rock you got from someone or for someone.

That perfect wedding.

That big house with a manicured lawn.

That picture perfect family.

There’s nothing wrong with any of these things (most are quite nice to have, actually) and prestige isn’t a bad thing to chase.

But if you are chasing prestige, are you doing it for you? And do you know why?

When the lingering voices from our parents / teachers / bosses fade away, and we’re no longer being compared to someone else, how are you defining your worth?

On Other People’s Expectations

Many of us are familiar with an existence where parents, friends, teachers, bosses, the world at large have expected us to act a certain way, to live a certain life, to abide by certain conventions/traditions, to follow the rules, to want certain things. To do otherwise would be a challenge to their beliefs, a denial of their authority, a threat to their existence.

Maybe we were seen as extensions of those parents, friends, teachers, bosses, and the world at large… extensions that represent reflections of their teachings, choices, performance, guidance, and humanity. There’s a lot at stake when someone you have tied your own value to doesn’t fall in line.

Maybe they were taught to think that way. Maybe they never thought to question what they were taught. Maybe they weren’t allowed to and if they dared there were consequences they didn’t want to bear. Maybe they never explored the alternate universe, one where they could define every. single. thing. for themselves.

I’m familiar with that world. My mom had expectations for me that I could never meet. Not only because I didn’t want to try, but because her expectations were so abstractly formed based on ideas of safety, security, convention, freedom, success, and happiness… that perhaps she wanted for her own life… but hadn’t fully grasped and understood herself.

She inherited a set of rigorously ingrained beliefs and then lived in a constant worldwind of life coming at her, there was no time to pause, consider and define indulgent ideas like…

… what my values are
… what makes me feel fulfilled
… what makes me happy
… what brings me joy
… what value do I want to create in this world

But we can always pause.

And we NEED to pause if we don’t what direction we’re heading in and why.

Otherwise, WTF are you working so damn hard for?