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A Picture Perfect Now

By Tara Cabullo, Brighterlife.com.ph

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During a talk with a friend in her late 30s, we touched on the topic about how most people born before 1985 hate the idea of taking photos of their food, their trips to the dentist, their every single move, while those born in 1985 and onwards are caught in this tangled realm of social media. As if to validate the pressing matters, Time Magazine recently came out with a piece on the Me, Me,Me Generation:

“Here are the cold, hard data: The incidence of narcissistic personality disorder is nearly three times as high for people in their 20s as for the generation that’s now 65 or older, according to the National Institutes of Health; 58% more college students scored higher on a narcissism scale in 2009 than in 1982. Millennials got so many participation trophies growing up that a recent study showed that 40% believe they should be promoted every two years, regardless of performance. They are fame-obsessed: three times as many middle school girls want to grow up to be a personal assistant to a famous person as want to be a Senator, according to a 2007survey; four times as many would pick the assistant job over CEO of a major corporation. They’re so convinced of their own greatness that the National Study of Youth and Religion found the guiding morality of 60% of millennials in any situation is that they’ll just be able to feel what’s right. Their development is stunted: more people ages 18 to 29 live with their parents than with a spouse, according to the 2012 Clark University Poll of Emerging Adults. And they are lazy. In 1992, the nonprofit Families and Work Institute reported that 80% of people under 23 wanted to one day have a job with greater responsibility; 10 years later, only 60% did.”

– Joel Stein, TIME Magazine

And as a person born exactly in 1985, I couldn’t agree more. As I type this, I remember one of those Friday nights spent dancing in five inch heels, toting the latest minaudiere, sipping expensive designer cocktails and waking up with blurry memories. Many a following Saturday morning, I would shove Berocca and rice (not at the same time) onto my mouth to relieve myself of a nasty hangover and promise myself I would never do it again. I am reminded of the times I would choose a better plated dish than one that was rather plain simply because it was more photogenic. Once in the city of Baguio, the taho vendor offered us a cup of strawberry taho and said “O ma’am, pang Instagram.” Today, step into a restaurant or a salon or a spa and be amazed at how everything is designed to be picture pretty complete with chevron prints and ample lighting. Some years ago, I bought a pair of flats that cost as much as a state university tuition fee. Back then, I didn’t know any better. Maybe Joel Stein was on to something.

I guess it could be said that we all sometimes make the mistake of making decisions according to how others would perceive us. It is expected of a twentysomething to be out partying on a Friday night so we scramble at the next opportunity to don heels and the skimpiest outfit. It is expected that we get the newest shiny gadget at the moment it arrives Philippine shores because if you ain’t got it, you ain’t cool. If you wake up and have got nothing planned while the rest of your friends are out and about, posting photos of their vacations, wine nights and barbecues with their families, it suddenly doesn’t seem to matter if you’re still lying in 1,000 thread count sheets. You aren’t having the same level of fun if you aren’t doing the same thing.

This is what I know now: There will be no end to things we can possibly desire. There will always be newer phones, a more sought-after designer label, a more raved-about restaurant. It’s better to define what a picture perfect life is now than be swayed of what is “in” and “trending” in the future and wake up with buyers’ remorse. That moment of my picture perfect Friday night had cost me a Saturday morning. And so I learned, that picture perfect nows are nice, sure but only if that is not at the expense of your bright, picture-perfect future.

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