We are an over-connected generation. Everything we do is posted somewhere for someone else to see. We have to let everyone know where we ate, what we did, who we went with, and what we saw. Not any of this is inherently bad, but we end up getting addicted to tiny dopamine bursts every time our picture, status, or idea is “liked” on any of our connected platforms.
Because of this, it has created a culture that is keenly aware of what is going on in other people’s life and how we measure up. The old adage of “keeping up with the Jones’s” is no longer fueled by the white picket fence, fancy new car, or the TV of our neighbors next door. It is now fueled by the images that appear on our Instagram feeds, status updates that line our Facebook timeline, tweets that we swipe past constantly on Twitter, and pins that perfectly capture our dreams on a Pinterest board.
We have subconsciously began to compare our lives to the curated lives of those we call “friends.” Which has given rise to us always feeling like have to be part the “next big thing.” We look at all the fun things people do, the latest gadgets people buy, and the newest fashion lines and we don’t want to miss out on any of it.
So we begin to fill our plates with more and more. We sign up for more classes at school, take on more projects at work, max out another credit card, and add a new significant other into the mix. We keep adding until we feel like we have satisfied this hole in our soul.
Until life happens.
Maybe it’s a divorce. Maybe it’s a lost job. Maybe it’s death in the family. Maybe it’s a marriage. Maybe it’s a move. Maybe it’s a baby. Whatever it is, “it” happens. Something that we didn’t account for happens. The random unknown.
It’s during those moments we feel begin to feel the weight of everything we carry—our family, our job, our relationships, our faith, our future—all at once. It all seems overwhelming, because it is. We’ve built our lives like a house of cards and created a balancing act that only needs one unexpected circumstance to blow and cause it all to fall around us. We’ve meticulously crafted our life to turn out the way we envisioned that we forget to leave room for the unexpected.
In the wake of those moments, many of us have a “come-to-Jesus” meeting with ourselves, pull out the pen and paper, and begin to prioritize our lives. We rank what is most important in our lives based on what we think we should devote our time and energy to.
But that rarely solves any of our problems. In fact, it just makes us more keenly aware of how much we have going on that we continually juggle. Assigning an arbitrary ranking based on importance does nothing but focus us more and more that there is a problem we have.
There is too much vying for our attention; we must cut something. We must say “no.”
Unfortunately, “no” is not fun. It holds us accountable. It makes us disciplined. It makes us feel left out. It makes us want so badly.
But, if we want to break out of this toxic pace we have succumb to that sacrifices our emotional, relational, spiritual, and physical health on the altar of social comparison and micromanaged control, then we have to free up room on our plates for the things we cannot see coming. Because if we are constantly getting knocked down by the random unknown then we aren’t thriving; we’re surviving.
And you can only rebuild your house of cards so many times before you realize that surviving was not the way we were meant to live.
Unfortunately, it takes the random unknown to make me aware of that; I just hope I’m not salvaging the wrong “priorities” next time.