I Won't Change the World
It wasn’t supposed to be like this.
24 and living with my parents. Living in the SUBURBS of all places. Single. Back in the U.S. Back in school. The concept of a career laughably ambiguous. No awards or accolades (unless you count Halloween 2015 when I won a “Sexy Historical Figure” themed party). Nope. Just me and my thoughts, basically starting all over again.
My story isn’t that uncommon. According to Pew Research,“As of 2016, 15% of 25- to 35-year-old Millennials were living in their parents’ home.” While the data on whether or not we change careers (not just jobs) more than our parents is limited, we seem to have more options and student debt than GenX.
But back to my original train of thought. You see, I was always “that kid” growing up. The one adults never worried about. The one who was always told she was special and different in the best ways. The one who saw herself as the first Korean American to earn an Oscar and the first female president.
Yup, I was that kid. I believed my capabilities were limitless. I saw what I wanted, and I got it. Maybe I was over-confident, even a little delusional, but I honestly believed I would change the world.
Eventually, my winning streak slowed down, and I started to rack up losses. I don’t think I realised how my break from dream world — where Lia was the star and everyone admired and respected her — affected my confidence. I can’t exactly pinpoint when I began to doubt my worth and capabilities, but it became frighteningly obvious last week that I was no longer that bright-eyed, unbreakable girl. As the assumption that I could change the world crumbled before me, I felt utterly lost and purposeless.
What spurred this existential crisis was my sustainable interior design class. The class has brought me back in touch with my inner hippie along with all of our planet’s terrifying environmental problems. EVERYTHING came flooding back along with alarming new data and increased devastation. I was overwhelmed. Literally catatonic some days. But what I struggled with the most was the endless stream of consumer and image-driven posts on Instagram. A single perfectly edited post tagged with fast fashion brands would send me into an absolute fury.
How could these people promote such devastating overconsumption? Is this all humanity wants? STUFF??? And that included me. I’ve been working on more style posts because, well, money. I wanted to make money from blogging, but I couldn’t find any purpose spending time on a style post while our world was literally burning around me. I also lost any purpose as an interior designer knowing that agriculture contributes 24% of greenhouse gases, only 1% less than the #1 contributor, Electricity and Heat Production (EPA).
I needed to take action. Become a part of policy making for sustainable agriculture. Create incentives for veganism. And then Charlottesville happened, along with the deplorable Trump and subsequent media firestorm. Now, I in no way want to invalidate anyone’s struggle, but all I could see in America’s future was destruction. No matter how many protests or revolutionary works of art, I saw yet another civilization falling to ruins due to the same greed and short-sightedness as our ancestors.
I felt like I was wasting my time on interior design and the internet, especially helping my dad’s construction company grow a social media presence. I kept screaming to myself, “Does any of this matter???” I was consumed by a drive to “Change the World” while painfully aware of my inability to make a change. I mean, was I just wasting my breath? Humanity seemed so predictable, a cycle of self-destruction.
Now if you’re still reading this, I applaud you because that was quite a heavy load of depressing word vomit to unload. The worst is over, I promise. Thankfully, I have my mother to dump all of this stuff upon in real life, and she continues to put things in perspective for me, DAILY. So, I’m relieved to say that I’m finally coming to terms with the fact that I will not change the world, and I’m okay with that. I, Lia Lee, will not change the world.
To some reading this, I may sound pessimistic and disillusioned with life. And those people may be right. The summer has made feel more alone and isolated than ever, and I’m still unhappy—functioning but definitely not happy. BUT that doesn’t change the fact that I’ve been living with a suffocating pressure to achieve something miraculous before I’m 30, and IT’S NOT HELPFUL. I need to adjust this “dream big or go home” mentality because dismissing the importance of the small battles that occur every. single. day. is simply ridiculous.
I’ve always been a visionary of sorts, but I have to keep in mind that I’m not a fortune teller. I can’t definitively say that increasingly industrialized civilizations with governments predominately run by big-money, lobbyists, and special interests groups will result in apocalyptic climate change. I hope I’m not so conceited to believe that I truly know everything. That’s why we must work to build relationships with as many people as possible. Maybe then, we can change the world for better, together. It’s a collective, bigger than one person, one country, or one race type of change.
I also need to remember to calm the fuck down. Pardonez-moi mon français. But we live during an unprecedented time, where our desires are fulfilled instantaneously and all through our phones. Groceries? Face mask from South Korea? Date for your sister’s wedding? Done, done, and done, and all before you leave the office! Ooh, forgot to pick up laundry detergent? Choose Amazon Prime and get that in 2-hours if you live in certain areas. We’re used to getting what we want in a second, but that’s not how we grow into experienced, mature, and strong citizens of the world. Rome was not built in a day, and I am definitely still under construction.
If there’s one call to action I can make, it’s simply GET OUT THERE. The mind is a dark, dangerous place if we’re left alone with it for too long. Disconnect from the world wide web and see the world through your eyes, not just a filter. Connect with members in your community, and remember that you are not alone. I realise that I'm not saying anything new or revolutionary, but a reminder here and there can be helpful.
We should do ourselves and favour to take a moment to recognize the beauty in life, the value of others, and our own inner strength. Maybe then we’ll truly start listening to one another instead of talking at each other. Maybe then, we’ll fully realise that our lives are interconnected whether we like it or not. Finding the beauty in life can be difficult when you’re isolated, stressed, and anxious, but I’m taking it one day at a time. Sometimes, you have to bring your focus back on the every day while remembering the big picture along the way.