Life is a rough experience filled with ups and downs. Since the moment we are born, expectations of greatness are placed on us. Our parents look at us and say, “I hope he becomes a doctor,” or “She will be a movie star.”
We are raised in a society with a rigid idea of success. Getting an education, becoming your own boss, finding love at first sight, getting married, having children, being beautiful, owning a home and a dog — these are just some standards that make up the idea of happiness. Why and when did we decide this was the absolute accomplishment?
Many environments and industries have been shaped by these traditional concepts. We see these concepts being applied as the criteria for acceptance in the fashion industry, during the employment process, in our high-school interactions and so on. Have you noticed this? Do you appreciate how arbitrary these ideas are? Why do we constantly have to sell ourselves as perfect creatures?
I like to confront this issue by recalling Carl Sagan: We are, as he described, a pale blue dot in the middle of space. So lonely and insignificant that we had to create a world of fantasy and ego in order to avoid facing the scary truth.
It is frightening and awe-inspiring to look up at the sky and realize we are part of something greater, and we are pretty lucky to be conscious enough to appreciate it.
But sadly, we still let shoes, debt and social media overcome this humbling reality. Our lifestyle and the way we interact with one another has created for us an artificial sense of control to keep us safe from fear.
How many times have you argued with yourself because you didn’t get that grade, that job or that recognition? How many times have you been overpowered by your thirst to thrive and knock out the competition? Have you realized that, in the end, maybe this shouldn’t be the overall goal?
When you open your mind and eyes to the bigger picture, you start to realize how your problems are miniscule compared to the bigger picture. You understand the complexity within life, and you feel inspired to the core of your being. Looking at the people around you that you might never get to know, enjoying a meal and realizing that you are nourishing little complex pieces that make you, you, looking at the stars and realizing that we are orbiting around a giant ball of fire, walking around your neighborhood and appreciating how trees are transforming the oxygen that fills your lungs... These are some of the simple things around us we take for granted.
If you are struggling with something in your life, look up with joy and realize that you are a perfect alignment of coincidences. We are all part of something bigger than we can even comprehend.
Andrea Taboada is a UF microbiology senior. Her column appears on Wednesdays.