Lunch Boxes for 20 Somethings

In elementary school is was all about who had the shiniest pens or the fanciest lunchbox. Then it was who was dating who (that is to say, the Grade 7 equivalent of dating). Then it was about grades. Now, for me, it’s about career opportunities. I understand that later it becomes about salary and after that it probably becomes who has the fanciest wheelchair.

From as early as I can remember there has been this competition. It isn’t necessary that we accept the competition. We can choose not to compete. I certainly did, but sometimes thoughts and feelings are harder to control and all of a sudden we do look at the fancier lunchbox and something inside us twists. Suddenly something is wrong.

What is wrong? Is what we have inadequate? Do we need something better? I don’t think we do, but somehow there’s still a feeling that we’ve fallen behind.

And that’s where I am. Many of my peers from university have landed miraculous opportunities and I feel fallen behind. However, I’m also on an equal footing with a lot of my peers and I’m ahead of a few. If this were simply a matter of comparison, I should be able to look at those I’m ahead of, laugh at them, and feel better about myself. Fortunately (but perhaps inconveniently) this is not the case.

Another development is that I don’t feel envious of the opportunities themselves. A lot of the more successful members of my graduating class are doing things that I would not be happy in. And that gets to the root of the issue.

Fulfillment. We all think something different will fulfill us. Lunchboxes, relationships, money – these are all means to an end: the Summum Bonum of happiness. The difference between me and my peers is that I don’t know what will give me that happiness. I don’t pursue anything passionately because I don’t know what to be passionate for.

I know there’s a bright side to this, I just don’t know what it is yet.


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