Millenial and His Fear of Insignificance

An inspired article from the book, The Fear of Insignificance by Dr. Carlo Strenger

Never before a generation has felt quite like a world sits on its shoulders. Today, most of us, millenials feel like we’re Atlas — the god who’s cursed to bear the sky for eternity. The pressure is mounting. Our gal’s got a new boyfriend, or our pal’s got a new car, and our childhood fat-assed bully in our middle school’s just got promoted. Life sucks, right?

During one’s years in his or her 20’s in this reigning era of global culture, he or she senses the weight of all expectations around him or her: to be successful a la Zuckerber, to be fit a la VS, shredded a la A&F, and, busty a la Kylie, to have a Disney-esque relationship, and to have it all figured out. Wait, I am drowning . . . please help . . .

Dr. Carlo Strenger best describes us as homo globalis:

A new species is born: homo globalis — global man — and we are defined by our intimate connection to the global infotainment network, which has turned ranking and rating people on scales of wealth and celebrity into an obsession.’ (The Fear of Insignificance)

Otherwise, if we don’t meet all these in no time, we start to feel insignificant. No wonder why we feel anxious, confused, and depressed, causing us to dread going out our beds, and function in our best selves.

This dilemma we experience is manifested on our internet searches. According to Google, our searches related to anxiety tripled, and to depression, it half-increased compared to the search results five years ago. We are desperate to learn about our well-being more than ever.

A lot of people from the previous generation, such as our parents, grannies, uncles, aunts, and teachers say that we should feel lucky we live in this age of digital technology and sharp-cut buildings and playroom offices. However, why is it that we don’t get “it”? Why are we lazy?

Well — really?

With the advancement and high use of social media comes also the sharp increase of millenials’ depression and anxiety. It can’t be denied that with its advantages come also with its negative traits — social media are addictive soul-sucking digital platforms that trigger sadness, comparison, delusion, and insecurity. Our peers or friends show us how great their lives are unfolding, and how much we are missing out. Also, our contemporary time isn’t helpful either. 21st century is the era of rising array of ultra-pregnant smartphones, travel places to go to, food options to try out, prestigious and glamorous jobs, and mountains of information. We are the planet CONSUMERISM that has a label on it which says: Everything is laid out already! It’s your fault if you don’t make it!

No wonder we feel small. No wonder we feel empty. No wonder we struggle in our existence and how we see our importance.

Here are some noteworthy guides to define your significance:

0) Stop. Right now, just breathe. Maybe, meditate. Then relax.

Pause for a while. Every day, take some time to do long-walks or meditation. There are a lot of available infos out there on how to execute this. Remember, taking a pause is vital in your well-being.

1) Acknowledge and understand that your experiencing anxiety and depression is a normal phenomenon in life, and it just reminds us that there needs a change for us to do: a change in belief, a change in perception, or a change of action toward our lives. In short, we must identify what we need to change and confront it.

Existential anxiety and depression are neither signs of inferiority just because you can’t fit to a conventional system of living, nor are sicknesses that need medication. It is normal. It’s a part of life, just like fever or headache. If we feel fever, we should identify what makes us feverish — either it’s bacterial/viral infection, or organ malfunction — not suppress it.

Identify what is making you anxious, what is making you lonely.

Existential crises are to remind us there’s just something wrong with how we respond to our life. No matter it is, we need to face it, and not escape from it. Here’s a quote from Abraham Maslow: “One can choose to go back toward safety or forward toward growth. Growth must be chosen again and again; fear must be overcome again and again.”

2) Know that you, as yourself, right now, is significant and worthy.

There are no added explanations for this other than the mere fact you are born in this world is enough. Period.

3) Re-evaluate your metrics of significance and success. In short, define who you are according to your truest Self.

“Vanity and narcissism — the compulsive need to be admired and praised — undermine one’s courage, for one then fights on someone else’s conviction rather than one’s own. (Rollo May, Man’s Search for Himself)”

Understand that the values you uphold for yourself should not be based on shallow pursuits and superficialities such as impressing a chick, or a hot dude on Starbucks, or even your own family (though it’s hard!) Time is short, and it should not be spent on trying to impress someone or trying to put a mask on. The actions and the goals in life you take must be grounded in the deeper parts of you that constitute your Authentic Self.

4. Find your inner strength.

Finding the center of strength within ourselves is in the long run the best contribution we can make to our fellow men. … One person with indigenous inner strength exercises a great calming effect on panic among people around him. This is what our society needs — not new ideas and inventions; important as these are, and not geniuses and supermen, but persons who can be, that is, persons who have a center of strength within themselves. (Rollo May, Man’s Search for Himself)

Take some time to be separate from who you used to be with. Take some time to do the opposite of what you usually do — or nothing. Take some time to savor solitude. Become an eagle above the storm clouds. Observe. And feel your power within.

5. Take actions.

Seeking a trusted psychotherapist is the most recommended action you may take. Remember, the goal of the therapist is not to cure you, but to help you clear your mind and the beliefs you hold about yourself. Or a life coach.

If those are not available for you right now, and may seem like pop self-help books are not big help, I highly suggest you read classical psychotherapy books written by Rollo May, Abraham Maslow, Paul Tillich, Erich Fromm, or Ernest Becker.

And while you are aiding yourself to learn your anxieties and fears, actualize your potentialities. Get your real talents working. It may be painting, writing, singing, dancing, volunteering — whatever creative pursuit you could have buried years ago, just because someone told you, you won’t make money out of it, or you won’t be successful. Our key to joy and fulfillment of ourselves is self-actualization: our highest need.

Abraham Maslow said:

“A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write, if he is to be ultimately at peace with himself. What a man can be, he must be. This need we may call self-actualization . . . This tendency might be phrased as the desire to become more and more what one is, to become everything that one is capable of becoming.”

Whatever you need to do, the gut and the core within you that tells you to do, you must start now.

6. Embrace uncertainty.

Man and the Universe

This is the ultimate key in creating meaning for your life. As Rollo May puts it:

The quest for certainty blocks the search for meaning. Uncertainty is the very condition to impel man to unfold his powers.
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