We the People

This is the duty of our generation as we enter the twenty-first century -- solidarity with the weak, the persecuted, the lonely, the sick, and those in despair. It is expressed by the desire to give a noble and humanizing meaning to a community in which all members will define themselves not by their own identity but by that of others.
Elie Wiesel


Growing up, I was the goody goody of the classroom. If the teacher asked a question, my hand was in the air. If the teacher left the room, I was the one put in charge. I learned early on that to excel in the classroom meant to be timely, studious, organized and compliant. And so I was.

As I entered high school, academic success shifted to include the ever-increasing obligation of extracurricular activities. Due to my inability to say no and my innate desire to meet expectations, I became the ultimate joiner. I juggled schoolwork with cheerleading, volunteer work with youth group and my sanity with the growing pile of multi-colored PostIts sticking out from a well-worn planner. All the while, I was assured that this kind of lifestyle was necessary, it was worth it, and that someday it would pay off. And I believed.

College hit full-force and with it, the constant push to focus on My Future. So, I got the grades, I landed the internships, I stayed involved...I played along. But at the end of the day, as I fell into bed, mind-whirling with never-ending To-Do lists and flitting from one worry to the next, I couldn't help but feel I was simply spinning in circles. Dizzying myself with relentless expectations that made me believe I could never do enough. And I began to question.

And now I've entered the workforce. And feel almost...betrayed. Tricked into believing that all of my sacrifices and scribbled lists and carefully-contemplated decisions should have resulted in something more. Something bigger than a 9 to 5 cubicle existence. Is this what I've been waiting for all this time?

I suppose this could be considered a mid-mid-life crisis. A sort of "rite of passage" into the working world as I transition from my glorified college years of exploration and independence into a more mature phase of responsibility and obligation. That it will pass.

But maybe this is proof that these traditional ideas of success do not apply anymore. Not to my generation. That we are searching for our place in society--not to arrive at a dream job and buy the house with a picket fence and live the comfortable, insulated, isolated existence--but instead, to use our passions to improve this broken world.

Our heightened global awareness has created a feeling of responsibility--a responsibility to build community instead of division and to consider others when society tells us to look out for ourselves. We are struggling to make traditional molds fit into this transformed way of thinking, and as a result, we are continually fighting feelings of frustration, dissatisfaction and overwhelming confusion.

Alone, we will likely falter. Succumb to the voices of doubt and reason that find us charmingly naive, endearingly hopeful but ultimately impractical.

But together, our uncertain whispers will unite to form a murmuring chorus. And our difficult questions may not be answered but neither will they be ignored.

May this be the new American dream.


I Dream of Scotland said...

Wow. It was well worth the wait. Thank you for your thoughts. And hang in there, God did create your desire to excell, He will use it to better His kingdom.

Would the work force be less dull if you received gold stars? I bet we could arrange that.....

luke said...

i hope we can road trip together too!

and i am really thankful for this entry sara. it's good to be together in not ignoring this stuff. count me a believer in that american dream.

vanwink said...

well put. getting mentally prepared for the commune? :)

Ashley said...

Sara..God Bless you. You have totally captured in words everything that I'm thinking right now.

I'm right there with you, so no worries...you're not alone!

Han said...

Sara. Where have you been all my life?

Seriously- its been a long time. How's life???