Thoughts: Train Windows

To people on the train,

~I see you, don’t worry. I see you with your friends, gabbing loudly with sideways glances to make sure people are paying attention to the fact that you bought your phone case yesterday, and it arrived a bit later even though you have some prime membership. I see you listen to your friends’ response as they say it looks so amazing, it really goes with your hair. I see you in your white sneaker shoes that are almost too dirty to be white anymore, but I also understand that you are telling the world you go to parties and have a social life so your shoes will look as such. I’m really not sure why you are wearing those high-waist jean short-shorts if you keep checking the window to make sure your waistline is flat, yet furrowing your eyebrows each time because your reflection is not up to the social standard you see at this time. I am not quite sure how you see yourself in those selfies you take, no matter how many filters you apply you will still come across as the common duck faced snap. You are trying to be your own person, yet you are also copying the same ideals as every other person your age.~

I bring this dialogue to attention because of the standards set for young men and women. The materialistic expectation is set from a young age when you are the girl in class who is dressed to the hilt and receives the favoritism from teachers for being the ideal child. It is a show. We are taught to showcase not our intellectual capabilities first, but our display that then proves to others if we are worth the listen or not, “I got 49 likes on my Instagram” and then your friend next to you, “I got 107 likes on my Instagram,” you are then scrutinizing why your picture got less likes than your friend’s. Is she more liked, is she more pretty, is she just more? Young women in particular seem to beat themselves up for this standard that is simply too materialistic to put a tangible measure to. When young people see the booming pop culture of celebrities and overnight fame, the want of being approved of gets more and more fantastical. How do we expect to empower each other when one cannot look through a window without being drastically scrutinized by what is staring back at them?

What is defined as more? Is it more to have this wide array of talent and experience to contribute to a greater community? Or is it more to be able to display yourself as a societal achievement of standards and expectations? To be honest, I am nervous to hear what most people would respond. In some aspects, both are going to be incorporated into an answer, which is an essential to grabbing attention and then making an impact; yet which side has more of a weighty pull in today’s society? At an early point in my developing professional experience, I have seen many sides of this spectrum: I have seen how the corporate world will first look to see what you are wearing then listen to the ideas you have to offer; I have seen nonprofits glow from the initial prospect of having an opportunity to listen to what one has to say, and the last thing they are concerned with is what the informant is wearing, not to say that they do not care on either side of the spectrum, yet the value pools of each side are filled with much different water, just to make an analogy of the situation. Societal values have skewed our perception of one another, and this is defining the way we are helping our younger generations develop. I think about this a lot from being the oldest in my family and a role model for my brother starting his junior year in high school. I find myself giving him more advice to be his own person rather than on school work and class decisions. Advice on knowledge, experience, and life should be more of a priority than advice about the most popular hashtags for social media. However, there should also be a place to learn about societal trends, yet not in an all life consuming form. Balance is the key to finding the best in both situations; I do not have a definite solution for this quite yet, but I leave you with some questions to ask yourselves on a deeper level: How much is too much? What do you need more of? What can you do without? What steps are needed to look at your reflection and be satisfied?

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