We are not natural. This radical revelation hit while I was running 8 miles this morning. Most likely all of us in who live in highly industrialized nations realize this but it’s not often addressed. It’s simply a truth that we take for granted as something that just ‘is’. Each of us are very subsumed by our unnatural lives and it makes no sense to further complicate things by pondering the native validity of our day-to-day.
Why did this strange thought just pop into my head? Well, anyone who’s been following my blog since it’s inception almost 2 years ago remembers that I used to post a lot about my mental health struggles. That sounds pretty dire, but relax…I’m still here so it’s okay.
I’ve grown considerably better in the past year, and my blog reflects that. I still struggle with feeling really sad for no reason some of the time. I just talk about it less. But recently, life seems to be colluding to bring me down. I feel sad for no reason. (I definitely have no reason to feel depressed.) It just leaves me wondering why I feel this way, is there something wrong in my life that leaves me feeling empty? These feelings incidentally coincided with the beginning of my Gratitude Challenge (which I started because I read that people who regularly give thanks are happier).
As I was running I realized what every fully self-actualized person already knows: human beings are never satisfied. We are constantly seeking, wanting, filling ourselves up with the things that aren’t necessarily good for us, but make us feel good. This might be our nature, but in our unnatural, modernized, consumer-driven society this equals disaster.
In the U.S. depression and anxiety are the most commonly diagnosed mental illnesses. The unchecked free-market society that the U.S. is known for has derailed, and like a runaway train, demolishes all things in it’s path. Corporations aim to fulfill every desire that a person can have with a product or a service. Advertisement media reminds consumers how much they don’t have and why they need to buy something else. It always distills down to you not being enough.
We are told we are not smart enough, good-looking enough, successful enough. Where we are in our current situations is not enough compared to where we should be. Whatever we have or just did could always be better. On and on, until everyone is so consumed with the frantic search for contentment and satiation that they don’t notice everything else in the world is falling apart. They are so numb, they don’t realize how they are falling apart too.
It’s a devastating cycle that leaves people at best, a little unhappy and at worst, suicidal. Maybe this environment explains why I can have so many good things in my life right now, and still feel depressed.
Right now, I don’t feel good enough just being a student. I don’t feel like I am doing enough when each day I run, blog, and do homework. I don’t feel social enough because I think I should have more friends and go out more. I don’t feel pretty enough, successful enough or nice enough. I usually feel as though every decision I make is wrong and I could have done better. The only thing this doesn’t apply to is my running. I can at least find solace in that act, especially when I define success as simply going for a run everyday.
The point is: maybe it’s not me and it’s not you, it’s society.
I wish I had a solution, but I feel as trapped as ever. In my current funk it’s become even harder to see clearly. What I know I can do is find a (running) goal, and focus on that. Striving towards something and achieving milestones along the way gives me enough motivation to keep going even when everything else feels like a struggle. At the very least, I can go for a run every morning and escape the pressure to be better than I am.