Once again and despite myself, I continued to mindlessly scroll through photo after photo. With each post, I grew both increasingly jealous and captivated of this random travel blogger’s Instagram, and the imagined life behind the lens. Recently this was pretty much my routine; sifting through various acquaintances’ feed, willing and wishing and wanting to be a part of that. The source of my envy went deeper than the perfectly framed and edited photos, I identified with the social and physical mobility attached to them. Reflecting on the stalled nature of my own life, my patience waned -- I was getting sick of being a spectator.
It took me back to my own experiences of seeing similar vistas. No picture can emulate the stillness you feel in the presence of granite monoliths in Yosemite to the perfectly sculpted columns of Zion. If only I was like those travel bloggers, I thought. They had their life together, they could afford to sustain their adventures to those lush locations. People always say, ‘You had to be there’. Well, I had to be there. But when?
At this moment, those places feel so far away.
Where is that exactly? About a month and half into the dreaded territory of post-grad life, sitting at yet another crossroads. If there was ever a metaphor to describe life after college, it’s the Drop Off from Finding Nemo. School was my coral reef and now I find myself staring blankly into a vastness I don’t know how to approach. Do I dive in? Do I approach with caution? Do I touch the butt? I don’t know, and honestly, a part of me is afraid to know, because once I find out I’m obligated to take the next step that comes with that knowledge.
It's a lot of pressure, and pressure can be immobilizing. You feel so many things coming at you at once that you do the easiest and least logical thing, which is not to do anything at all.
But we should work against this reactionary mindset. More often than not, what we lapse into isn’t comfort but stagnation. I was so focused on the perceived hole I was in I didn’t realize that I wasn’t in a hole at all, but a plateau. Anywhere that doesn’t promote growth is the last place you want to be. We may find ourselves in hard places, but the reality is that places don’t have to be hard. People have the ability to soften them. You know the saying -- it’s all about perspective. Once our perspective shifts, so does our environment. It starts with facing that pressure head on. How often is it that once you subject yourself to something difficult that you realize it wasn’t as bad as you thought? At any given moment, we can opt to make better decisions.
Now, sitting here in my bed as I write this post, the picturesque view, is still as far away as ever. A year from now, who knows where I’ll end up? I’m still not exactly sure, but for now I’ll let the uncertainty guide me.
Our initial reaction when we feel pressure is to alleviate it. We do whatever we can until we get to a point where we feel comfortable. It’s easy to get so preoccupied with the forces against us that we forget we have our own inner momentum. Your environment might shape you, but it comes down to how you react -- do you succumb to the pressure, or do you let it propel you forward? Whatever your gut feeling, the only way to find out is to feel the pressure in the first place. After all, how else are diamonds formed?