Everyone regardless of their background, ethnicity, or gender has faced some type of obstacles in their lives. Life isn’t always easy and the road to success is filled with many bumps and hurdles that we constantly need to overcome. These life lessons make us stronger, sharper, and more experienced.
The experiences gained from our trials and tribulations can be used to help others in need. We all need someone to guide us through the rough times. Who hasn’t been in dire need of a helping hand? Someone, to tell us that everything is going to be ok? We all quote Dory from Finding Nemo in the following quote, “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming.”
While inspiring stories and motivational speeches do give us the will to keep going, some people tend to over-exaggerate their experiences and oversell positive attitudes.
Cynicism has increased in the past few years, and people have started to shrug off life coaches, ignore positive affirmations, and not pay attention to many motivational speakers.
Why is that? What are the reasons that made people ignore the advice of life coaches? Or look down on motivational speakers?
These questions might seem complex but if we were to look at them from the people’s POV, we can pinpoint where people are coming from.
It basically boils down to one thing, the performativity of perfection and success. Life isn’t a walk in the park, as everyone is going through something that affects them deeply, so by looking at life coaches or professionals who seem to just give simple advice without highlighting their hardships and struggles, people tend to get discouraged and feel disingenuous.
Optimism in the Era of Cynicism
The target audience for life coaches, entrepreneurs, and motivational speakers are young adults and millennials who are willing to learn new skills and improve themselves.
Speaking of millennials, this generation has been through a lot both financially and mentally, they are constantly trying to figure out their place in the world and find their true purpose.
For a generation that faces a lot of criticism for their inability to find a job or start a business, the pressure to become perfect and successful is always present.
However, what people don’t realize is that millennials are hustling and working hard to be better. Circumstances have been millennials' number one enemy, and each time they try to move forward, apply for jobs, or improve their skillset, the world isn’t giving them a chance to breathe. From economic issues to mental health, and Covid-19, millennials became more cynical and pessimistic.
For these reasons stated above, millennials have dropped the idea of finding a life coach or a motivational speaker, they are not interested in aspirational stories or tales of success without detailing the hardships and failures faced by said speakers and public figures.
Gritty realism and stories about overcoming hardships and obstacles are what millennials are interested in hearing.
They relate to one of their own, cheering for the underdog who made it. That’s what gives them hope and drive.
The Overacting of Success on Linkedin
Picture this, you’re a fresh graduate in search of a job. Or a person who finally found their purpose and passion that is now looking for a vacancy to apply to. Suddenly, all of the profiles and connections on Linkedin are masters of their crafts. The peak of their professions. The best of the best. Everyone has a Ph.D., had their CFA, are CEOs and president of companies. Those successful people are posting their accomplishments on their profiles without explaining how they ended up where they are.
While it's fascinating and admirable to see how successful people got to where they are, it also creates unrealistic expectations in the minds of people who are in the process of finding a job.
People aren’t envious of success, they are frustrated that they feel they have to jump many hoops and be perfect in order to be considered for a position.
No one seems to share their failures, they are afraid of being mocked. Instead, they show their accomplishments as a way to prove their worth and brag. Something to boost their ego.
The Constant Promotion of Hustle Culture
Oh yes, the endless cycle of influencers who have a podcast and youtube show that keep promoting toxic hustle culture.
Again, there’s no shame to share your experiences and give proper advice, however, there’s a fine line between motivational stories based on personal experiences and giving advice to people, undermining their own self-worth and struggle by pushing an agenda to keep working harder and harder.
We are bombarded with “work hard till you own a Bugatti.” “Work hard till you can afford a mansion.” “if you don’t own your business by the age of 25, you are a failure.” across social media platforms, it's inescapable.
Imagine tuning in to your favorite podcast, only for the hosts to mock your progress and underestimate your potential.
The content being aired and shared online is extremely toxic and promotes an awful image of success.
So what’s the main takeaway?
To all the people who are currently reading this, and facing a lot of discouragement, keep in mind that:
1. Everyone’s road to success is different.
2. These hosts and influencers don’t know you or your story.
3. Success isn’t born overnight.
4. Failure is part of evolving as a person.
5. Age isn’t a limit to having a fulfilling life.
Ending this article with a quote from Leslie Jones from SNL to remind yourself that it’s ok to fail and ok to feel lost: 'Sometimes you gotta fail to succeed'.
So, take a breath and just walk with your head held high.