April 8th, 2016
The topic of “#goals” and how it has impacted our society is something that has been widely debated and discussed over the past couple of years. So, naturally, being a 21 year old female living in the peak of millennial culture, I thought I would take it upon myself and join the conversation. This is my story of how “#goals” made me hate myself.
I know it sounds rather dramatic to say that a single word…well…a hashtag, could make someone hate themself, but it is more about the culture behind it than the actual phrase. As a child I was always taught to set myself strong goals and that achieving my goals would bring me a sense of satisfaction. When I was younger that was a lot more simple because no one was telling me what I should be working for or who I should aspire to be; the whole process was very autonomous and self-directed.
However, in the social media driven world we live in now, people such as myself and even those much younger than myself are being bombarded by images labeled “goals” and being subliminally told who we should be. This whole concept of “#goals” sends all that self-direction and self-motivation straight out the window. I no longer feel that I am making goals because I want to actually accomplish them, but because that is what I have been told should be accomplished. So why did “#goals” make me hate myself?
Back around my freshman year of college I felt a lot of pressure to fit a certain mold. I was living at school, meeting new people, and adjusting to a new life independent of the people I had grown up around. Often times, when I felt alone I would go online and look at other people for inspiration. I would see feeds plastered with body goals, hair goals, outfit goals, relationship goals, friend goals, and so much more and that was around the time I started feel inadequate. So, to make myself feel more in line with these goals I started small. I began to work on my social media feed and tried to make everything appear to be in line with these online aspirations I had been seeing all over. I was essentially creating a new version of myself online in the hopes that it would make me feel good enough.
For a while things seemed alright. My relationship with my boyfriend at the time looked like “#relationshipgoals” and I had, what appeared to be, a pretty solid friend group…”#squadgoals”. For a while I was content living in my little bubble I created for myself, never once questioning if I was happy because I obviously was because I was “#goals”, right? Wrong. Wrong Wrong Wrong. By the end of my freshman year, my year and a half long relationship dissolved and I only had one or two solid friends that I actually felt genuinely happy around. My perfect bubble burst and I was completely lost.
Then things became worse when I turned the focus inward. Maybe my life wasn’t “#goals” because I wasn’t “#goals”. I frequently found myself looking at myself in the mirror, standing with my side to the glass, and flattening my shirt and grazing my hand over my little bit of lower belly fat. I would stare in my makeup mirror and poke and pinch my blemishes in the hopes that they would go away. I would stare at my closet full of clothes and feel as though it was not enough. That’s when I tried to change myself. I would wake up excessively early, try on multiple different outfits, go to school and spend the day trying to avoid calories out of fear of being any less “#goals” than I already was.
This problem persisted until the end of the summer last year when I slowly began to realize that it was okay to not be “#goals”. I realized that “#goals” were wildly overrated and the only reason they really even existed was because people were trying so hard to create them. I realized that a lot of things that people deemed to be goal-worthy were simply things that people fabricated for aesthetic. That was my first step towards mending my relationship with “#goals” and creating my own set of real goals.
I still don’t have a perfect relationship with myself, but I’ve definitely come a long way. I no longer do things to enhance my appearance for any other reason than to please myself. I stopped holding myself to such an unattainable standard and started simplifying the concept of goals in my own head. My “#relationshipgoals” went from tons of roses and fancy dates to simply someone who makes me laugh and that I can talk about life with. My “#bodygoals” went from being thin and flawless, to being happy in my own skin and taking care of my body (which not too surprisingly has helped me lose weight more than trying to be skinny). My “#squadgoals” changed its focus to quality not quantity and I am forever grateful for my friends who have stood by me.
So overall, what I am trying to say is, “#goals” aren’t all that bad if you know how to rationalize with them. Don’t put so much pressure to be something you’re not and don’t live by what other people tell you should be your goals. Keep your sense of self-direction strong and you won’t fall victim to “#goals”.
be your own #goals,