I always wanted to be number one. I wanted the best grades, the best school, the best job and the best clothes. I wanted to prove to the world that I was better than everyone else. Everything I did was to show how perfect I was. Everything I strived for was with the idea that I was the best. I graduated valedictorian, got accepted into the honors program, got a scholarship that covered almost all of my education and living expenses, and thought I knew everything that was going to happen in my life. Every aspect of the future was planned and perfect.
And then I failed my first class.
It wasn’t so much that I failed; I was taking 20 credits, working and running the West Coast region for Students For Liberty. My failure was inevitable. What shocked me was that I didn’t care. I didn’t care because I knew it didn’t matter. In fact, everything I had strived for didn’t matter. My entire life was built on a lie. When I looked at my GPA and saw it plummet, when I realized I didn’t have the time or motivation to complete my honors program and dropped out, I discovered that I was doing what I thought everyone around me wanted. I wasn’t living for myself.
I was living the life others wanted.
It’s taken me 22 years to fully realize what that means. I’ve been so busy in high school and college trying to become the successful and amazing person my parents and teachers and friends wanted me to become that I don’t even know who I am let alone who I want to be.
My generation, the millennials, face more stress and more pressure than any other generation. We have been given more, we have learned more and we have succeeded more. But despite this success, we are lost. We think of ourselves as independent, as being free thinkers but the reality is that every aspect of our lives has been planned by generations before us. We aren’t living our dreams, we are living our parents dreams.
It’s time for us to stop and breathe. It’s time for us to realize who we want to be. It’s time for us to do the things we want to do. We live in the most technologically advanced century. It’s time for us to stop trying to be number one and become ourselves.