It was a Thursday night. Sprawled across the rug in my common room with the warm, yellow curtain lights — my friend and I were staying up late yet again. Our conversation oscillated between the new reality TV show, “Love Island: Australia” and moments of reflection about our lives. A few more people popped into my common room and talk of resumes and extracurriculars began yet again. I sighed.
From premeds talking about their extensive research publications to economics majors talking about their “500+” connections, it seems to me that LinkedIn forms the basis of the social scene at Yale. Rather than communicating with people face to face, we’ve started judging people’s worth based on their resumes online. On this campus geared towards ruthlessly “climbing our way to the top,” I fear that we’ve come to forget how to make real, meaningful, long-lasting connections and rather valuing each other because someone “was recruited through YES weekend.”
Walking into a dining hall never just means catching up with a friend. Rather, it feels like I’ve just entered a job interview. We refrain from talking about our beliefs, desires and goals. Conversation is filled with fun dialogues like “What internship did you get for the summer?” “Oh, you got X? I also got that, but I’m working at Y.” We are always putting on a facade, having to impress everyone we come across. While we spew our “perfect” lives and “perfect” accomplishments to everyone who will hear, we’ve lost touch in dealing with our imperfections. When we don’t deal with these imperfections, we become afraid of admitting that we aren’t actually perfect. This has consequences for not only the relationships we form but also how we choose to live our lives.
One dangerous part of the façade of perfection is when we allow it to infiltrate into our friendships. Instead of sharing our vulnerabilities, we’re left alone to deal with the complex parts of ourselves. If we only talk about whose internship is more prestigious, when will we ever create a space to talk about our feelings of imposter syndrome, body image, race, family dynamics and our own shortcomings? Moreover, we create distance within ourselves. We stop reflecting and start living automatically, monotonously checking off the next task on our to-do lists.
Pretending to be perfect changes our future for the worse. Sometimes, I feel defeated when I hear yet another story about how JP Morgan is begging so-and-so to join their company. I remind myself, “You cannot compare yourself to other people.” But it’s hard not to think about my own shortcomings when all of us are propagating comparison culture. How can we even begin to build ourselves up by grappling with our flaws, when we are too busy tearing each other down? When we hide our mistakes, we prevent ourselves from engaging in valuable introspection. Instead of growing as individuals, we photoshop our lives.
We cannot simply let ourselves fester in this superficial society. So next Thursday night, I’ll talk about what’s actually on my mind. I hope others will join me.
NISHITA AMANCHARLA is a junior in Saybrook College. Her column runs on alternate weeks. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.