Sometimes I go about in pity for myself, and all the while, a great wind carries me across the sky.
Feeling crushed by the expectations of forever being labelled ‘A graduate of X school’. For I either live up to it(“It makes sense that she’s successful — she graduated from X!”) or I don’t (“I can’t believe X ever admitted her as a student”). There is no middle way.
I cannot talk to others about my fears and pain because they will look at me and remark that I have it good in life — maybe too good, and that’s why I’m just whining. I cannot get pity or empathy from others, so the only person who pities me is myself. I feel as alone as everybody else. It was days of doing nothing, roaming listlessly about after the work day was done. Having a checklist of all the things I should do but not doing it. Feeling tired and sleepy all the time. Feeling like I have a lot to say but no one to say it to. I’m just expected to be the strong person, mentally stable, achiever. And any weakness I have, I cope with myself.
“No one ever said ‘no’ to X school because they couldn’t afford the school fees”. But even after financial aid, even if I’m a top 20% earner, why do I have to take 50k in loans after currency conversion? And the thought of paying rent, the thought of spending on coffee and nice dinners while not earning a single cent, suddenly feels frightening.
How do I avoid an inflated sense of self-importance? I keep extolling this to people around me, to keep me grounded, but it keeps seeping into my head. In August, I will update my LinkedIn status to “MBA Candidate at X” and 300 likes will flood in and I will receive numerous requests. I see people in other MBA programs flaunting their status but dismiss them in my head — their MBA program isn’t as prestigious as mine. These people don’t know what the big league is. How can I reconcile this from all the books, all the Meditations of Love I’ve been reading, all the advice my sister has been dishing? I just have to live through it while being self-aware.
Thanks to advice from my CEO, I now know it’s real that adrenaline always feels worse than the real thing. I know I am panicking now — along many anonymous others waiting to quit the jobs they enjoy (and are good at) and to enter a world where they are a small fish in a big pond — but reality will be infinitely less intimidating. It’s like panicking the night before a barre or F45 class with performance anxiety, but when you’re in it with many average-looking people you realise it’s not just models who work out.
Images on Instagram feel so contrived. I hate seeing all those proposal shots, which you know the women prepared for with their beautiful dresses and their manicures. I hate the mock expression of shock when the guy is pictured getting down on one knee. I see influencers posing that they’re “in the moment” in a photogenic place but it all feels so contrived, like influencer couples who jump into a pool of rose petals or kiss on a Bali swing. The best moments cannot be captured, but sometimes you wish a camera was there to capture it.
Instagram’s discovery page made me realise how we’re so conditioned to objectify and appreciate women’s bodies. It’s just nicer to see a woman in a bikini diving into a pool than a man, or to follow her back view in tight leggings and a sports bra as she hikes up a magical place. Women have a variety of clothes, body sizes — big boobs, small boobs, long legs, curvy, blonde, brunette, Russian/ French, 90s aesthetic vs 00s aesthetic — but for men it’s always the same. I couldn’t even objectify men if I tried.
Seeing all these young girls on Instagram, in their ‘prime’, born in ’97 or after. I feel old at 26, like my prime has gone, the fun has gone, and now I’m getting serious with my life, hitting bars instead of clubs, and trying to understand how to relate to Gen Zs because in the future, they will be working for me. I’m not a regular manager, I’m a cool manager. And in the future, their time will come to. How will we all hold on, grasping to the last vestiges of young adulthood before we become utterly irrelevant in the social sphere? Age gracefully and never build your identity on just one thing.