In generations past, people were told to stop taking themselves so seriously. I think we millennials have taken the idea so seriously to not take ourselves seriously that we have driven ourselves into the other ditch – we see ourselves as jokes, and want to make sure everyone else does, too.
I think a lot of it may do with the kind of overwhelming crappiness of our times and growing connectivity with the rest of the world – we see ourselves as tiny little specs of dust in this huge dust storm of humanity that’s being driven by uncontrollable winds of huge corporations, insane political figures, and fidget spinners. So, we retreat, make memes, and giggle our way through every situation.
I’m kinda writing this about my not-so-distant-past self. I got pretty caught up in the “FML” culture of PhD students – a kind of ironic learned helplessness. There’s something pride-zapping about making poverty-line wages and having your research projects fall way short of your expectations that can drive even the most Pollyanna of us all into self-deprecating pessimism.
And look, I’m all for a good lolz. But they can be taken too far. Sometimes you need to take yourself seriously enough to take a shower, put on some nice clothes, and actually try, ya know?
I say all this coming out of a successful post-doc interview. I was gratified by how much they.. respected.. yes, respected!! me and my dissertation work! The whole experience made me realize that I use sarcastic, self-deprecating humor as a shield against expectations. I didn’t want to disappoint people, so I made sure they kept their expectations low so I wouldn’t have to deal with their disappointment or be assigned more responsibility. #realtalk
But yeah.. this past week has opened my eyes to my own value in my field. It’s scurry, but I actually have the potential to bring some good to the world through my research. Eeks!
So, I know most of you aren’t in PhD world, but I think this could apply in a lot of situations. Being a mom, for instance, is huge. I’m sure getting spit-up on and getting into intense arguments with 4 yr olds isn’t always validating, but you have this unbelievable influence in how a real life human being sees the world! That’s really not small. For realz.
(This is getting a little ramble-y, but I blame it on the ferocious winds of Irma whirling my brain to and fro’. #science)
My point is – don’t discount yourself, kid! Lolz it up, but don’t lolz yourself into a false sense of insignificance.
..Unless you just want to be insignificant, and then I guarantee you that you will succeed in that 😏