Let’s have a chat…

George Saunders Congratulation by the way speech

I could spend hours in a book store searching the shelves for interesting reads, and as a young teenager my friends and I used to hang out in Waterstones, spending our weekends thumbing our way through the books, DVDs and CDs, often sheltering in the warm before our next bus arrived. The other day I was browsing the books looking for a wedding gift and came across this humble-looking book sat on one of the ‘must read’ tables. I had a quick flick through the pages and came across this paragraph…

George Saunders speech book

It struck a chord with me, so much so that I carried the book to the cashier and purchased it. Now I don’t really get very deep and meaningful on my blog, but this excerpt hit home for me as this ‘need to succeed’ has preoccupied my life since, well, for as long as I can remember. It’s only recently that I’ve been able to identify this pattern renewing itself over and over again throughout my life, and have come to realise that this trait has been my driving force for a very long time.

Not so long ago a blog post about ‘Generation Y‘ made the rounds of Facebook and hit home for many of us born in the ’80s and ’90s who fall inside this generation. Go and have a read if you haven’t already, but basically Gen Y’s are the largest generation of youth in history, growing up in an ‘everyone can win’ culture with ‘Baby Boomer’ parents, making us highly ambitious with often delusional expectations for our lives. This, coupled with a suffering job market and the rise of ‘Facebook Image Crafting’, where we constantly compare ourselves with other peoples’ inflated lives, has left us ‘Gen Y’s’ feeling altogether unhappy.

Now most of my readers are ‘Gen Y’s’, which means the chances are that you, reading this right now, are too. I for one have noticed this need for succeed, especially since entering this crazy world of blogging. My constant need to make my blog the best it can be, beating myself up for missing a post or my constant comparing to other bloggers who have more followers, better photos, get invited to more events etc etc and  I’m sure a lot of you fellow bloggers can relate to this. The rise of the YouTuber and fame of the super blogger has inspired many young girls to start blogging, only to realise after 6 months that these things do not happen overnight.

This predisposition to succeed makes us a highly competitive generation often stuck in our own little bubbles, but step outside this cycle and you realise that, like the paragraph reads, ‘success is like a mountain that keeps growing ahead of you as you climb it’. You soon realise that you’re on this blinkered journey, missing out on the real pleasures in life and the things that really matter.

So before I get too ranty and you want to pull me down from my soap box read this…

George Saunders speech

Is it all slotting in to place? For me personally, I definitely see success as a kind of acceptance in this world and this isn’t a particularly healthy way to live. I’m going to make a conscious effort to step outside my bubble and spend time, proper time, not time interrupted by Twitter, Facebook and emails, with those important people in my life. My boyfriend for one has had to put up with many an evening of me glued to my laptop.

That’s enough deep thinking for one night, I hope this blog post has helped some of you in some way. And hey, it’s ok to have wild dreams and work your butt off to get where you want to be, but just remember…

Happiness is a journey quote

The book ‘Congratulations, by the way’ is a transcribed graduation speech made by George Saunders. You can view his full speech on YouTube.

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7 thoughts on “Let’s have a chat…

  1. Hi Sarah. I think that for some of us who grew up in the 70s and particularly spent our teenage years in the 80s this is also true. We were brought up to believe we should strive to be a success and that achievement was ALL important – I remember being balled out at school by my headmistress for refusing to take the Oxbridge entrance exam because I was at 17 a “bright young thing” of whom much was expected – bet you wouldn’t think that now eh? I may not be Generation Y – I’m a good deal older but you know me and you know how important work, success and achievement are in my life no matter what obstacles I’m facing. You have been one of those supported me through those times where I have felt like potentially not being able to do that has made me feel “worthless” at times, to the point where to be able to continue to reach to attain my own still high goals has meant decisions to make big changes. So despite the fact I’m the generation before you we probably understand each other pretty well. I would love to read this so I am going to keep my eye out for it. A lovely post Sarah and it has made me think about those other important things in life too and how easy it is to get caught up in the chase for our own personal definition of success. Thank you for such a thought provoking read xxx

    • I’m so pleased it’s resonated with you Becky. It can be overwhelming this ‘chasing success’. You are a very talented, hard working lady who is the best at what you do because of your ambitions. It’s getting that balance right I think and not beating yourself up for minor failures which are small in the grand scheme of things, I know I do this myself a lot! It’s clear you are a driven lady and massive admiration for you and everything you do! There’s not many out there that can juggle the things you do!xxx

  2. This is such a fabulous post, and the message is something we all too often forget. Everyone puts expectations on ourselves, people put them on us, and we put them on others. If we don’t succeed then we have failed. But that’s not true, not necessarily anyway. Sometimes the whole point of trying something is to just see what happens. Life is a lot simpler, healthier and more enjoyable when we just go at our own pace. After all, the Hare didn’t win.

    Jemma @ Jemma In Words

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