Photo by Natalya Letunova on Unsplash

Just because you are passionate about something, this doesn’t automatically mean that you can earn a living doing it.

What happened to the days of self-motivation? The days when you didn’t need someone else filling your head with positive thoughts, and you could make your own decisions about your life with realistic expectations? What happened to the days when motivation and drive came from the enjoyment of doing something rather then a cliche quote you saw on Facebook or Instagram? And what happened to the days when failure was a part of learning and growing and not a reason to get a prescription for Xanax?

Yes, I am referring to #motivationmonday! The day everyone gets to feel more insecure about themselves and fill their heads with unrealistic expectations! At its core “Motivational Monday” was developed with good intentions, but so was communism and we saw how well that worked out. Mondays are already bad enough. The weekend is over, we have to get out of bed early and go back to work, and now we have overly excited people forcing less than helpful “motivational” images and quotes into our minds. “If you believe hard enough you can do anything,” no…. Not really. If you have solid work ethics, put in the time, work your way up from the unpaid intern, oh and a little thing called talent… then you might be able to reach your goals. Passion and dreams alone won’t get you there. People passing out “motivation” like participation awards are part of why the insecurities of society have skyrocketed. “That random blogger said if I worked hard and believed I could be the next cover model of Vogue,” hate to burst your bubble, but probably not. Having passions are great to have, everyone, is passionate about things in their life. But to save yourself from unnecessary heartbreak and insecurities from not achieving your desires or goals, sprinkle in a little realist expectation and a grain of salt.

Let’s take, for example, your favorite para-athlete, versus the person that has no personal drive besides this weeks hashtag trend. The athlete was more than likely always active, always involved in whatever sport they are now famous for, and always had the discipline to work for their obtainable objective. Yes, the recovery and come back was amazing and motivational. However, it wasn’t the tragic event, the recovery, or the comeback that made them excel at their game, it was hard work, raw talent, and countless setbacks and failed attempts. Now, let’s look at our #thisweekstrend participant. They have never been athletic, but book smart. They have always tried to follow someone’s shadow instead of making their path, and have no inner determination. They see an InstaPost with an amputee holding a trophy more massive then themselves with a heartfelt caption that reads:

“I am so thankful for everyone who supported me in my journey. This day is like a dream come true. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I could become an Olympic athlete. After my injury, I thought it was over, but I quickly learned that if I believed in my dream hard enough, it would come true.”

Our friendly #thisweekstrend gets excited about a sport they have never tried, “If they can do it, I certainly can!” What the post failed to mention, like all social media, was the endless days of rehabilitation, the buckets of tears and sweat, the countless failed attempts, the amount of money thrown at trainers and coaches, and the mornings of wanting to give up. So our friend starts on their short-lived attempt to become the next “inspirational story.”

I admit I have had my fair share of unrealistic dreams, from becoming a Sports Illustrated journalist and dancing with the Rockettes in New York. While I was published countless times, in my short debut as a sports journalist, I was also one of two sports writers at the newspaper. And of course, every year at the yearly dance recital I got a shiny trophy with my name of it. None of that mattered in the grand scheme of things. I may have been talented at it, but not gifted enough. Since I realized that early on, I saved myself a lot of self-doubt, insecurities, and wasted years of “failures.” What I did was take those passions and redirected them on aspects of life which I could excel and become successful. When I had setbacks and failed attempts in my new path, they weren’t devastating or spin me into an insecure shell of a person. They helped me re-enforce my determination of being on the right track. I didn’t need a sunset picture with a quote from some famous person that has no idea I even exist to motivate me. All I needed was my own self motivation, the work ethics to succeed, and the truth about my degree of actual skill.

So, what happened to our hashtag friend? Well, as most people expected, the motivational high quickly crashed. They never got further than a few weeks before they couldn’t keep up and became riddled with self-doubt and insecurities. They are now laying on their couch, scrolling through social media, comparing themselves to every athlete, celebrity, and public figure wondering why they aren’t good enough to be like them. Instead, they should have taken that insta-motivation and appreciated it for what it is, a push to get up and join a gym or start that new job they wanted, to start something realistically. Motivation must come from within, not from someone else. Being motivated by something is excellent! Just make sure the motivation comes from the right source and for the right reasons. Insta-motivation is like instant gratification, once the initial rush is gone, your left with your inner motivation. Pick your source of motivation wisely.