The Pressure to Thrive

In a world consumed by "likes," "friends," and viral videos, life can often feel like a competition. On social media platforms all over the world, people seem determined to exhibit their seemingly perfect lives as they attempt to convince their audience of friends (and, oftentimes, strangers) that they are, in fact, thriving. For many college kids, the pressure to thrive is real.

I remember being a senior in high school, anxiously awaiting the day that my life would become as fun and fulfilling as the college girls that I followed on social media. In the months leading up to move-in day, my friends and I often talked about how much better life would be once we finally got to college. Our minds were filled with the misconception that we had to wait to live our best lives.

I had a preconceived notion that every day of college would be the best day ever. I expected to have the world at my feet as I became independent and confident. I expected all of my problems to disappear the second I stepped onto campus. Social media is what created this toxic mindset for me. My idea of what it meant to thrive was sculpted by the images of pretty girls at football games or parties, looking like they were having the time of their lives every single day.

Once I got to college, I realized how false that perception really was. Yes, college is fun. Yes, life has gotten better since leaving high school. But to say the I am “thriving” is, on most occasions, a dramatic exaggeration. On any given weeknight, I can be found bent over my biology textbook frantically trying to learn concepts that seem far from the capacity of my right-sided brain. Although this is my reality, it is unlikely that people who follow me on Instagram or Snapchat will ever see me in that state.

What I have decided in the past few months is that life is meant to be lived one day at a time. Each day is a chance to grow, learn, and maybe occasionally thrive. The majority of days will be good, not great, despite what social media portrays. The pressure to thrive is real for everyone and it is important to remind yourself that Instagram and Snapchat are not people’s realities. Live every day for yourself and be less concerned with the opinions of your audience.