When I was younger and just starting out in my career, I looked up to strong, successful women like Anna Wintour, Donna Karan and Hillary Clinton. I would learn about their achievements in the paper, on TV or in magazines. They got to where they were through a combination of education, experience, hard work and bravery...and they strove for years behind the scenes, building a name for themselves, until they got their "big break" and made it. I knew that in my career I would have to struggle as well by taking on volunteer or internship roles, working long hours, taking risks and above all, really getting to know who I am and what it is I can offer the world that will set me apart. It wasn't so much envy or a "keeping up with the Joneses" feeling...as being inspired by the success stories of others.
Nowadays, with social media constantly boasting achievements of everyone around us, hearing about other people's lives has created a Jealous Generation due to our fear of missing out. In the latest Soho House magazine, there was a piece about FOMO, describing it as a "social anxiety generated and perpetrated by Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and social-media variants you haven't even heard of yet." FOMO is taking over! There is so much competition out there. Everyone has a blog, our minute-by-minute thoughts are broadcast online and everything we do is photographed and posted for all to see.
I like to think I have the maturity and grounding needed to not be caught up in the wave of competition, but I have to admit I'm glad there was no social media when I was 22! Back then we didn't know what everyone else was up to, only select stories and certain people made the headlines. But now it seems like for the 20-something that they are competing for attention with the entire world. How can you keep up? What can you do to set yourself apart? Here are a few tips for how you can find fulfillment in this FOMO world, and avoid being part of the Jealous Generation:
"Always be a first-rate version of yourself not a second-rate version of someone else."Judy Garland
Stop focusing on 'everyone' around you and instead take a look at what you offer. What are your true strengths and weaknesses? What do you excel at and what you do wish to improve on? Get to know yourself, discover your strengths, build on them and develop them. But don't forget your weaknesses. We all have them and it's ok. The next time you're at a job interview and someone asks you about them, answer honestly. Be realistic. Lying about your weaknesses will catch up to you. You may ace the interview but you'll lose the job. What's important is how we deal with our strengths and weaknesses. Many employers will say that a positive attitude is what sets successful candidates apart and they'd be happy to help you develop your skillset if you approach it with the right attitude. We're all unique for a reason; we each bring different strengths to the table. This is a good thing! Imagine how boring life would be otherwise.
"Find out who you are and do it on purpose."Dolly Parton
Take the time to be interested, not just interesting. Look at the big picture; where do you fit in? Remember that there's a whole world out there -- your industry did not burst into life the moment you became a part of it. There are ground-breakers who came before you; get to know them. Learn about what's going on, what went on before, what's anticipated to occur. Read, ingest, grow. Treat your job like a career, no matter where you are on your path. Find out how you can make your role more progressive, your work more outstanding and set out to achieve those goals with intent and purpose.
"It's a hell of a responsibility to be yourself."Sylvia Plath
Living up to your potential is not a passive act. Being authentic can be hard. With self-awareness comes accountability. I think it's important that we all are conscious of what energy we put out into the world, and take ownership of it. Not letting yourself dwell on the path of another is something we all have control over. I believe you are responsible for your own wellbeing. Choosing to be happy takes the same effort as choosing to be unhappy. You can't just complain about what you don't like. You have to start creating your happiness. It really is no one's job but your own and not everyone finds fulfillment in their career alone. Focus on your passions: what makes you tick? Is it family, travel, giving back? These are the things you should pursue in life in conjunction with your work life; collectively, this will help make you whole.
"Life is a promise...fulfill it."Mother Teresa
I've been reading a lot of articles lately that predict 2014 will be the year we reject FOMO and instead start finding joy in missing out. Although I don't think that's necessarily the right way to phrase it! It's not really "missing out", it's about being confident and fulfilled in your own life and not feeling the need to boast about it or compete with anyone else. So take the initiative, get to know what you offer the world in your own unique way, set off with intent and give it your all. The only way to find true fulfillment is to look inside, not out. For many people, FOMO thinking can be overwhelming and make you want to just give up entirely. Whenever I catch myself getting caught up in FOMO, I imagine I'm in a yoga class. Sometimes it can feel like everyone is doing the poses better than me but I know that we're not there to compete with each other. We're there to be our best. So at times like those, I ground myself more deeply, stand a little bit taller, and centre myself in the midst of everyone around me.
Sending you all much love and kindness.