Who is Paddling Your Canoe?


We are in an age where the pressure to be something and 'keep up with the Jones' is alarming. Everyday, we get subtle pressures the moment we open our social media accounts or speak to that friend on the 'goings-on' in his life. Unconsciously, our life choices are impacted by what society and friends call important or pronounce as success. Individual's dress patterns, hair styles, choices, relationships and habits are increasingly being reinforced by what society call trendy and acceptable. Only few step back and ask themselves the question: 'What will it mean for me to have succeeded?'

More than ever before, we are losing our authenticity and more pathetically, following paths in life out of sheer pressure. A recent study in the United States showed that one of the core reasons for the spike in gun violence in America today, has to do with mental health issues by young people who have come to a point of depression because they felt they couldn't live up to the demands of society. These demands range from having a particular kind of girlfriend to attaining some sorts of notoriety early in life. Their world as they know it has set the success bar and there is a scramble to either reach it or take out their frustrations on others.

My favourite University lecturer upon meeting us as freshmen in his class for the first time said 'Whatever you want to attain in this school, good or bad, just know that someone at some point had once attained it. So live your life and make the most of your stay.' It was one of the most profound words I will ever hear throughout my University days.

At a time when the glitz and glamour of social media have literally taken over mainstream realities and overtaken conventional ideas, it is important to ensure that you don't fall for the madness. It is salient that you consciously ask yourself the question 'Who is paddling my canoe?' Be careful that the source of your unhappiness and sadness is not because you haven't attained the lifestyle you see on your social media timelines. More importantly, be mindful that you are not living a lie because you want to be admitted to the clique. You can't base your life choices on trends and perceptions. You can't afford to allow the pressure in today's world make you feel small and unfulfilled.

The thing with societal pressure is that you can't win. Society will always change the goal post. It is too short a life to be lived on someone else's terms. Live your life on your own terms. Put in the graft and hardwork required. Remember, there are times you have to use staircase when the elevator is broken. Be patient with your self and realize that you can't circumvent process and growth. Pace your self and understand that you can't be disingenious in this race of life. Don't live for the 'gram.' Many of what we see on social media is superficial and a mere smokescreen. Take it one day at a time and most importantly, paddle your own bloody canoe!

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