Social Media Decision-Making: I Don’t Care What You Think I Should Do In my 20’s

I think we’ve all noticed a trend of viral blog posts containing the words “What Every Twenty-Something Must _____ Before They _____” or “Why You Shouldn’t Get Married Before ____”…I could go on. In fact, if I see the phrase “Twenty-Something” again, I might go crazy.

The pervasiveness of social media has made us all hyper-sensitive to how others feel we should live our lives. Of course, caring what other people think or worrying about societal norms is nothing new. But these expectations and, sometimes, entirely opinionated pieces are now being sent to our phones or invading our Facebook newsfeed which we just happen to check every day or every hour – can we go one day without seeing what someone else thinks we should look like, do or not do, wear or not wear?

Here’s the problem: it is what someone else thinks you should do/wear/believe and this will never please everyone and often won’t even please you for the right reasons. You cannot make everyone happy. For every post about why you shouldn’t get married in your early twenties, you will see five more from the opposite side of the debate vouching for why you should of course get married and have kids young.

When it all comes down to it, who do you listen to? Whose is the most legitimate opinion?

The problem is relying on the opinions of others instead of forming your own. The fact that we see these expectations so often and in so many places can make you rely on others for your ideas of who you are, how you should behave, what political or religious views you should hold, and other important life decisions.

I am a Christian and my faith is the most important part of my life, but I do not believe the best way for someone to make a decision about their faith is to be told that it is what they should do or believe by society, by friends, or by a post shared on Facebook a million times. I think sharing your faith with others is great. But I think the decision of faith is something that should be extensively explored and researched by an individual and should hold a personal, intimate place in a person’s life. That feeling is not something that can be created in a virtual world. It has to be found in the real world without a reliance on others.

The same goes for marriage. There is no one out there who should be telling you when you should or shouldn’t get married except for you. This is a decision that should involve personal reflection and consideration and that is something lacking in our decision making skills these days.

Let’s step it up, guys.

When you put real thought into your decisions that do not involve the opinions of others and come to a conclusion on your own, those decisions will hold a more honest, relevant and personal place in your identity. You can truly say you are your own person making your own decisions and you can live without regrets.

What we should really spend more time doing is not arguing about which path is “correct” or why “ours” is better than “theirs” but instead how to better achieve what we believe is right for us. We should learn to leave our computers/phones in the background of our lives and find how to live outside of our virtual societies of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and those expectations. We should stop putting so much thought into what we must do by a certain age and start really living and enjoying what this age has to offer. You can do just about anything at any age if you want to and are willing to work hard enough to make it happen. 

I am not trying to argue that everything is relative or depends on the person. Good advice for people in different life stages is always welcome and can be helpful, that’s obvious. My main point is that you sometimes need to take a step away from social-media-decision-making and explore things on your own, especially when it comes to making more important life decisions. I also think there is a difference between articles simply sharing an opinion, giving advice or sharing stories and articles that claim that one way of life is the wrong way or the right way. Read as many articles and opinion pieces as you want, by all means. But keep in mind the other point of view. Look at the alternatives. The preferences of someone online are not necessarily true or right for every person and should not be pushed as if they are.

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“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Goals: Bring it on 2014!

The first semester of my senior year has flown by, with each month seeming to get shorter and shorter. As 2014 gets closer, I have been thinking about resolutions for next year. I normally don’t even make New Year resolutions because I think they are just destined for disappointment, especially with everyone pessimistically tweeting about how they stopped working out or stopped eating healthy by January 3rd. But this year is different. I’ve realized the true importance of goals and plan on coming up with several realistic goals for the new year that will, hopefully, stick around for much longer than a year.

Setting goals helps you stay organized and focus on things you want to accomplish. I have not always been the most organized person – just ask any of my friends and they’ll jump at the chance to vouch for this – but this year I have really started to work on and improve my organization skills: I started to keep a weekly planner with assignments, meetings and other appointments, started to organize papers and assignments from school more efficiently and began organizing files on my computer. I’ve started to keep my room cleaner and even started finding fun ways to decorate it. It may not have always come naturally to me, but now you can be assured I’ll never return to my old ways.

Decorated my room with Christmas lights
Decorated my room with Christmas lights!

Room pic 2Even more important than a planner full of to-do’s are my goals. This year, I set goals for organizing my social media (especially my Linkedin), making more connections, getting more involved on campus and beginning to apply for jobs. These goals made all the difference in my year and made me feel like I wasn’t wasting my time or skills any longer.

Which brings me to the reason I’m even discussing goals at all right now: because they make all the difference.

Next year’s goals:

1) Figure out what to do with the rest of my life (aka – Find a job). This is kind of a given, I guess. I’m one of those college seniors who hasn’t found exactly what I’m supposed to be doing career-wise. But this only gives me more opportunities to figure out what it is – what exactly I will do that will interest me and help me grow. I cannot wait to figure out what it is! Sometimes, the process of finding out what you are passionate about can be the most fun part.

2) Grow. I want to grow in my relationship with God, my relationship with others and in my relationship with myself. This could mean finding new hobbies, delving more deeply into interests I already have and reading the Bible more, learning how to take what I learn and really apply it to my everyday life. We are meant to grow.

3) Give. Whether it is giving to a church, to a friend, to a family member or to a complete stranger, I have been given so much and the least I can do is find ways to give to others.

4) Stop drinking sodas. It sounds ridiculous but this bad habit will probably be the hardest to change.

5) Cross something off my bucket list. I’ve realized this is the age where you have to start thinking about jobs and growing up…but that does not mean you have to forget about the fun stuff. I am 21 and about to graduate college and this is actually the perfect age to do whatever I want – before I have a family or a long-term job that ties me down in one area. I’m determined to do something (hopefully travel-related) I’ve always wanted to do.

Tip: Find a friend that has the same feeling and cross something off the list together – it’s something you’ll always remember.

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6) Show love and gratefulness to those I love more often. Recent events in my community have reminded me how quickly people can be taken away, before you have a final chance to show them or tell them how much they mean to you. My goal: to not have hard feelings or unspoken apologies. Show those around you how much you love them as often as you can.

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Hopefully, I can keep these six goals on my mind and in my heart and can take actions next year to stick by them, not letting them fade away after January. I’m not expecting some revolutionary change or “new year, new me” type of thing. I’m also sure I will come up with more. In the mean time, these will just help keep me on track, not lose sight of what’s important, and continue to grow each day. Bring it on 2014!