You Won’t Believe This List of Top Things Everyone Everywhere Should Know

Do not tell me the top 30 things everyone in their 20s needs to realize about life.
Do not tell me the 15 ways to true happiness.
Do not tell me the biggest mistakes people in their early 20s make in relationships.

Wedged between a post about “What is your old person name?” (Um, my name.  Michelle.  Obviously. it will still be mine, even when I’m old) and “What disney character are you?” are “You won’t believe!” and “The top 10 reasons why!” posts.   For the most part, these are promoted posts on Facebook, but in some cases, they are articles that have been reposted and shared on people’s walls.

And I hate them.
Is this what the internet has come too– people writing faux inspirational posts that are simply a re-hashing of what it means to be a healthy, developed, emotionally stable person?

To be clear, I am not talking about when people write about their personal experiences– that’s totally different.  Stories have power and sharing stories is not only a beautiful part of history, culture, and friendship, but it’s what keeps memories alive.  Stories, I have always believed, have the power to inspire.

So, I am not talking to you, girl who writes about her own realizations from living abroad, or boy who realized the top seven reasons he had a bad love life. I am talking about the generic, trite posts that contain universal truths that everyone on the planet should already know.  I have come to the conclusion that these posts must only speak to those who insist upon living lives of vapid, self centered immaturity.

Like, “violence only furthers the spread of hatred?”  (DUH.)

“Taking risks is scary but worth it.” (Vague, sometimes true.)

“Don’t compromise to be your true self.” (It depends on how you have determined who your “true self” is…)

“Life doesn’t get any easier,” one blog stated.  “The real world sucks.” (The other “life lessons” the article taught basically explained why this was true: “You can’t party like you used to,” “Your company doesn’t care about you,” “it sucks to be older,” and “you make bad decisions.”)

Obviously, I click on these links every once and a while.  Every time, I hope for something deeper.
Every time, I’m disappointed.
(Except for this one very well written post …)

Maybe my disappointment stems from the fact that these articles make me realize that we live in a culture of inspiration-obsession.  We can’t design a home without Pintrest, run a mile without a motivational poster, or find happiness without looking for happiness in the experiences of others.

When we, as adults, are unable to figure out that we should always “put our  best foot forward” and that we “can’t have it all,” or that “relationships, both romantic and platonic, take time and energy,” then there is something wrong with us.  If the “harsh lessons everyone should learn in their 20s” aren’t learned in one’s twenties, then what?  Will they become the “harsh lessons everyone should learn in their 30s?” And, should we even need a random post written by a guest blogger on Buzzfeed or Elite or Lifehack to tell us about how to be successful in a world where no one can even define success anymore?

All of this to say, let’s learn our own lessons, inspire each other with our own stories, and find out how to experience life the old fashioned way– by living it.

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4 thoughts on “You Won’t Believe This List of Top Things Everyone Everywhere Should Know

  1. What an awesome article!!! Since I know my daughter reads your blog I am sure she will see this. It is awesome!! Some of those would come right out of my mouth!! Thanks for sharing!!! Counting the days for your coming home!!! I promise NO CHICKENS this year!!!! Maybe a dog? hahahahahahaha! I have rented a cottage for the two weeks and you have got to come again for dinner!!!! xo xo xo xo xo

  2. Haha wow, glad you could put the thoughts of the sane down on paper. I have thought that many times, what straw finally broke your back enough to write this?

    • I don’t know what quite triggered a written response, but the thoughts have been snowballing in my mind for a while. Perhaps it’s because I feel like posts like that are catering to my generation, and I find them mildly insulting, but also because I think it’s easy to fall into a trap of obsessing over what other have done in the context of what you have not. We all need to create our own experiences and learn our own lessons, but when we are always comparing ourselves to someone else, or searching for inspiration on someone else’s Pintrest or Instagram or Facebook wall, we lose ourselves, and that is a terrible thing. Yes, we all need inspiration, but more than that, we need wisdom, and I am pretty sure it’s not the kind that is found on a list of 30 random “truths” about life (in your 20s) (that is relevent for everyone).
      What are your thoughts when you read articles like those?

  3. Well written: “We live in a culture of inspiration-obsession.” … wonderful. Truth is, I actually would like to find the secret rules of success as I wonder into my 30s. …which is why these posts are so popular. But, like anything else in the world, there are no easy answers, no universal secret, no blacks and white (well, some perhaps), and a whole lot of grey areas for each person to figure out for her/himself. Isn’t that the fun of life! To be honest, I’d much rather listen to your, and share my own, personal rules of happiness sitting around a table, with a few beers, outside some convenience store in SE Asia, than take the advice of some distant faux philosopher any day!

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