what does it matter
I’ve been wrestling with this question a lot lately. What does any of it matter?
The world tells us that WE matter, ourselves, taking care of A Number One, me, me, me, me, me, and it’s exhausting. More stuff. More this. More that. More money. Gotta do this, gotta be that, gotta have this thing if you want to be considered part of the “in” crowd. It kind of feels like some crap i used to deal with back in high school. And there’s really no difference then to now, because i didn’t fit in then either.
I was part of the “quality over quantity” friend group aka furthest thing from “popular” that exists – there were maybe 5-10 of us. And we were all in choir. or band. Mega Nerd Alert. And i couldn’t get myself to fit in if i tried – i was into plaid pants, some with chains, some without, red and black everything, fishnet shirts, studded belts, studded bracelets, hats with flames on them… good old fashioned punk goth chick. Lord help me if i ever try and replicate any of that now – sure, my main wardrobe color is black, but i can do without all the metal accessories and flames.
Now that i’m older, i think deep down i still want to believe in quality over quantity, but i just feel like that’s so counter cultural. Everything is more. I’ll be happy when… when i get this, when i make that, when my bank account looks such, when i’m driving X car. And it honestly makes me feel like i missed the boat somewhere. Or that i’m dumb for not being able to figure it out by now. Where did i go wrong? I’m not ungrateful for what i have, i understand that there are people far less fortunate than me, but there are also people that would almost consider it a failure to not be a millionaire by age 30, driving the car of your dreams, living in some seriously fancy digs in a choice neighborhood. Things i desire? Maybe. Things i have? Not quite.
Truthfully, i’ve been gainfully unemployable for well over ten years. I started a photography and videography company back in Michigan way back when after getting out of what i thought was my dream job in college sports followed by my other dream job in graphic design – neither one of them being my dream job, clearly. So i decided to be my own boss. I don’t really think it was ever the work that i was doing that was the problem. It was the people. And it’s not that i don’t play well with others… it’s that i don’t play well with others’ stupid rules. Admit it… Half the rules in corporate America are just dumb. There’s only “one way to do things,” and that was a really hard concept for my plaid-patterned, rebellious soul to grasp.
I still don’t grasp it. I don’t understand the “one way to” anything. Sometimes it makes my path for how things work or the purpose of my life a little more fuzzy because i can’t seem to base my journey on anyone else’s track record, but alas here i am. With an unbelievable pattern of going against the grain and no promise of that changing anytime soon.
More than anything, my brain keeps wrestling with the question: what’s it all for? What’s the purpose of chasing numbers, views, followers, money, influence – what do i gain out of all these “friends,” most of whom i’ll likely never meet…? And the speed at which i’m expected to get there… maybe some of that is self-imposed, because the comparison that results from these things is sometimes too much to even quantify… but if i had it my way some days, i’d have all the deepest desires of my heart to my exact specifications, and i’d have them tomorrow. Scratch that. Yesterday. Because society told me that when i get them, i’ll be happy. Or happier. I’m not sure exactly which.
On second thought… i’m actually pretty sure that none of that works out the way “they” tell us at all, and i can be just about as equally certain that it’s mostly the exact opposite. Sometimes i think “they” could a dash of wisdom.
All the time that i’ve spent chasing bigger, more, better… hasn’t actually yielded proportional happiness in any regard. There’s no real lasting joy at the end of that tunnel. It’s cool for a minute… but then you just want to do it again. But bigger. Which… don’t get me wrong, it’s fine to have desires and goals in life, but it’s also good to humble yourself every once in a while and ask yourself what’s actually going to last in this world…? What’s the purpose… if and when i got all those things i’m dreaming of, will i truly be happier? Will i be more fulfilled? Or, my favorite question of them all, which was prompted recently during my reading of To Hell With The Hustle by Jefferson Bethke (highly recommend, by the way…), “who am i becoming in the process?”
When we die, there’s a chance that someone will remember us for a generation or two, but then poof. You’re gone. Your name fades. It’s all gone. And nothing that you earned, nothing you have, none of that means a thing to anyone else once you’re gone. You can store up all of the possessions in the world, earn all the trophies, all the gold records, all the bling, everything you ever hoped for… and maybe your kids will fight over it when you go, but really, it’s all just “stuff” and a lot of it ends up in the dump. (i know that sounds harsh, but unfortunately i’m speaking from experience…) and the only thing that actually matters is who you became along the way.
When i’ve got more success on my mind, why do i want it? For my own glory? What’s the point in that? When i’m desiring more money, why is that a thing? So i can grow my bank account? Buy myself another pair of Doc Martens? Would that really make me cooler? Happier? More joyful? No. Quite likely not. May any of the growth i want or desire have a lot more to do with making the world i live in a better place than advancing my own personal kingdom. I like nice things just as much as the next girl, but all that shiny stuff fades, the excitement of your latest achievement dies, and we’re left with the relationships we created and how we treated others. What the heck would a killer music career or thriving business do for me if i had no one to share it with?
To this i say: Quality (of faith, relationships, and life) over quantity (of money and status and stuff).
It’s hard for me to want to spend precious time on this planet trying to prove my worth through earnings and things. By showing how much better i am than other people at anything. I just want to be a positive life force on this planet that proves that your circumstances don’t dictate your joy. Your faith does. Your soul does. Your ability to humble yourself, not take stuff so seriously, and look on the bright side every once in a while does. That hurrying up to get ahead may not be all that it’s cracked up to be. That there’s a lot more value and joy in spending time with people you love instead of shooing them away, lost somewhere in chasing social media trends and buying a bunch of unnecessary crap on Amazon.
Do i feel pressured to do so? Every single day. It is maddening. It is haunting. It is one of the hardest things for me in my current season because i don’t want to want it. I don’t want to look in the lane next to me, see someone achieving things that i’d also love for myself, and wish my life was different. I don’t want to wish i was further along. I don’t want to wish for more money, more influence, more business, more listeners, more view on my latest reel, more anything…. All so i can take pictures of it and have a better looking feed or highlight reel. But i sometimes do. Too often. Because i’m a human. And i do a lot of super annoying, dumb human-y things.
All i’m saying… is it’s ok to not want what “they” want or have. Who are “they,” anyway? Are “they” happier? Are “they” healthier? How’s their faith? How’s their family life? And if you’ve only seen it on Instagram, i bet objects in mirror aren’t quite what they appear. Give yourself a break, friend. And i’m speaking to myself here, too. Give yourself some dang grace. Write it in your journal. Say a prayer. And find some gratitude. Things are happening “for” you, not “to” you, and above all, it’s our responsibility to monitor our character and the person we are becoming in the process.