Are We Becoming A Generation of CVs?

2015-07-07 14:42

I must confess that this has not been an easy opinion piece to write given my inability to distance myself from what this piece will centre around: being obsessed with adding an extra line of an achievement in our curriculum vitae. To you, a fellow young chap, do not beat yourself up too much when you peruse this, because what we are a victim of is a result of pressure from all sides: that you need to be the best even if you sell your soul and become who you want to be at the expense of others. Back when I was still a school child and now as a young adult, each motivational speaker would keep telling us that we needed to be the best. I do not have a problem with that, but the question is: how do you become the “best’? What is the “best”? What do you lose for being the “best”? I have these questions bubbling around my head but I do not have answers for each one of them.

Strive to be the best

The economic system that rules the world, capitalism, teaches us to compete and pursue more than what we already have. It teaches us that, both overtly and covertly, that we should always strive to be on top of the world so that we can be applauded and often be worshipped. This comes in different forms but the dominant one is that of awards. In our schools, learners who outperform others in sport, academics and other activities are rewarded with prizes and are often reminded that they are the best. When we grow up and head to universities, we are often told that we should be better than those who presided over us. While I do not encourage mediocrity, the problem starts when we sacrifice our beings to be the best in the eyes of the world. Please note, this is not to bastardize ambition; it is rather to challenge the notion that success is only reached through the lengths of our CVs.

Time to know what counts

Having achieved quite a lot in my life so far, I can tell you: the best is just an ideal and often costs you emotionally and physically. When you read Robin Sharma’s ‘The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari’, you will start to understand that true success is not the amount of money you have, the kind of car you drive and the number of awards you have received but the spiritual steadiness and a peace of mind. Often, the pursuit of being the “best” costs us quality time with our family and friends. It costs us the opportunity to connect with our inner being. It costs us the chance to live instead of making a living. It costs us time to adore nature and all its wonders. We realise later when we are nearing the end of our time on earth that we have nothing but a life filled with regrets over a life partly lived, if lived at all.

No longer at peace with what you have

Striving to always win leads you to a state of discontentment-- after you have received whatever award you have set your sights on, you never stop there; instead, you want the next “big” thing so that we can applaud you. Unfortunately, that affects you and your ego. When you do not achieve anything, you start to beat yourself up and believe you amount to nothing.  That’s when you should know that you are no longer content with what life has given you.

Life is too short

My challenge to fellow young people who are on this boat is: learn to live instead of making a living. Practice gratitude and care for your soul. Life is too short to spend thinking about where your next achievement is going to come from. To teachers: let us teach our learners to collaborate than to compete. To parents: stop telling your children lies that a long CV is success. That’s nothing but a CV that does not even tell us how happy you are. You will be shocked to know that most of the people whose accomplishments we want to emulate are the unhappiest people on earth. I think it is about time we young people started to reflect on what it means to be successful. After deep reflections in the last couple of months, I have realised that while I have accumulated much for my CV., I have not lived my life to the fullest because I have been on a mission to “stand out” but actually lost so much emotionally. I do not wish that for you.

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