It’s back-to-school season and parents are rushing to get their children the latest collection of schoolbags. I was talking to one of my friends and she said kids in her family got a new school bag every single semester to get them motivated about school. It got me thinking on how materialism gets ingrained in us from such a young age.
Society says this is what success should look like; it starts with Kipling schoolbags, upgrades to Burberry clothes and Louis Vuitton shoes, then the Porsche Cayenne rolls into the garage of a huge mansion over acres of sprawling green land.
One question though; how is success supposed to feel? By the time we’re aiming for those Burberry clothes, I’m not sure any of us really knows.
Schools are good at building your intellectual self, but when it comes your social and emotional self, it fails miserably. The system tries to help by throwing you into classrooms with other students and telling you to figure everything out yourself. There will be those who will thrive in social conditions, and then there’ll be those who will simply survive *cough*cough*.
But what it does is show you how things already are not how they could be. Basically, social hierarchy is established from the get go. In schools, the cool groups are defined and the nerds are left in the corner. As you grow older, the game doesn’t really change much; the cool groups are defined and the nerds are left in the corner.
In most cases, relationships are conditional; whether you have enough social capital, enough money, enough power, enough fame….You’re kept around only if you satisfy some sort of need. When that condition is not satisfied you’re thrown away.
These kinds of conditional relationships can really, really mess you up in the long-term, and the worse part is you can never really run away from them, because they exist within our families too.
There’s a beautiful John Green quote (that I can’t remember where I heard or read), where he was talking about Esther — the girl who inspired The Fault In Our Stars — and he said something like…Esther wasn’t special because she a girl with cancer who taught us how to make the best of every second in our life. Esther was special because she was Esther.
And this is the overarching message of this rambling post. Dear Student, you’re not special because you carry a Kipling bag to school. You’re special because you’re you. You’re not defined by the clothes you wear, the type of people you hang around with, the house you live in, the car you drive. What defines you should never be something external because then you’ll end up on this virtual treadmill where you’re chasing things without getting any closer to them. What defines you is internal; who you are, what you do in your life, the way you treat the people in your life, and being authentic in every move you make.
Because if you really think about it, buying that iPad or that Lumbergini is easy…okay, you’ve got to make sure your — or your parents’ — bank account has enough money. But all you have to do is swipe a card at the counter and that’s it. But being a good human being is hard. It requires you to respect others, to not judge them, to love them, and to let go of a lot of your natural prejudices …and that’s a challenge that needs to be faced every single day.
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