Do not make life decisions for 15 seconds of fame
I have been staring at the blank monitor screen for over 30 minutes now. If that was not bad enough, this is after several failed attempts at writing this post. Every time I would begin writing I would keep asking myself, but what am I actually trying to say? I guess this is the good thing about writing versus merely thinking. It forces you to solidify vague notions and threads of ideas floating all around your head into concrete explanations.
So here is my humble attempt.
The inspiration for this piece came from a TikTok trend where students in fields like law, pre-med, or engineering would boast about their majors instead of focusing on the actual day-to-day work. I initially found it #relatable and even let out some giggles, but this one struck a nerve with me. I could not pinpoint why it stirred something in me until much later.
Some weeks passed by and I found myself in a circle surrounded by some distant relatives. They were talking about how proud they were of their children's hard work and achievements. And rightly so. Parenting is no easy task. But as I was listening to them, I started recognizing a pattern. Many people make life-altering decisions solely based on what sounds impressive. It astounded me to what extent status, prestige, and virtue signaling still permeate our society. This was the nerve the TikTok struck in me.
To clarify, I recognize the importance of credibility and prestige in establishing the trustworthiness of entities. However, I was shocked to realize how many people unintentionally prioritize these factors in their life choices. That conversation about their kids lasted only about 15 seconds but it was a real person's day-to-day, minute-to-minute, and second-to-second lived experience.
Shouldn't we optimize for that reality instead?
Further, I acknowledge the role of privilege in this matter. Those from lower socioeconomic backgrounds may not have the luxury to pursue a pure passion. They often make educational and career decisions to increase their chances of securing any job at all. I pass no judgment on these individuals; I understand that life deals different cards to everyone. If I were in their position, I might have made the same choices or realistically, worse choices. But, if you are reading this, chances are you have the privilege to question and make optimal choices aligned with your values and fulfillment, not just to impress others.
When faced with crossroads in life, I firmly believe prioritizing choices that make you come more alive rather than ones that provide external validation will actually start making you more impressive. Personally, living by this principle has been and will continue to be challenging and scary. Yet, I've learned that it is even harder and scarier to be imprisoned in a life optimized to impress others sporadically.
So, the next time someone asks about your field of study or job, pause and reflect. Ask yourself whether your answer will grant you 15 fleeting seconds of fame or if it genuinely represents the choices that invigorate you with vitality each day. If it is the former, you still have some soul-searching left to do.
I wrote this post primarily as a reminder for myself but maybe it can serve as a reminder to you as well:
Do not make life decisions for 15 seconds of fame.
Instead, make life-altering decisions that resonate with the remaining 86,385 seconds of your day.
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