BY RACHEL WONG
Unless you have been living under a rock for the past few years, I’m sure you’re aware of the viral, slightly overused social media jargon that is “#goals”. The #goals phenomenon has evolved quickly, from #squadgoals to #baegoals to #relationshipgoals to #lifegoals.
But what about this term has made it so popular that it now extends beyond social media and into our everyday language?
Just the other day, I was admiring the shoes of a girl in front of me in line at Starbucks. The 12-year-old girls behind me clearly noticed them too. “Wow, that is ultimate shoe goals. She is life goals,” they claimed.
The term ‘goals’ is synonymous with wanting to attain a certain aspiration. When we were younger, we were encouraged to have goals pertaining to what we wanted to be when we grew up. At such a young age, we had every aspiration under the sun, from becoming an astronaut, to a doctor, to a princess (that was mine). And while some aspirations were obviously incredibly difficult to attain (like my princess dream), these goals taught us that we needed to work hard at achieving them. So if you wanted to be a doctor, you better have been ready for more schooling after your high school diploma. The point was that goals were never just handed to you. You had to work for them. You had to earn them.
The term #goals is now so overused that I’m beginning to think it has outpaced its usage in sports terminology.
At a time in our culture when tweens seem to be growing up faster than ever, some startling – and often unsettling – trends have arisen. I am now faced with 13-year-olds sporting crop tops, trying to perfect the smoky eye, sending ‘sexy’ Snaps to their ‘baes’, and attempting to take perfect pictures for their Instagram feed. But even worse, the overuse of the term #goals dupes young girls into believing the unbelievable and striving for the unattainable. These #goals are often off-limits and impossible for any ordinary girl to reach – regardless of how “on fleek” her eyebrows are. We idolize celebrities for their style, their money and their lifestyles. But unless we really hit it rich, most of us will never achieve the same level of fame, money, power, or ‘perfection’ that we think our idols have.
Because of this, more and more girls are becoming impatient, underwhelmed, and even plain sad about their own lives. Regardless of age, the trend is the same: we buy into this culture of perfection, thinking that if we dye our hair a certain colour, buy a certain t-shirt, or use a certain lipstick, we will magically be happy. We think that by spending hours on end finding the perfect selfie lighting, we can show the world that we are super-sexy and incredibly happy. We find validation, and even happiness, in the amount of social media ‘likes’ we receive.
If you find yourself doing this too, let me give you a virtual smack on the head when I say, “GET OVER YOURSELF and GROW UP.”
All of this is not happiness. All of this is not goals.
Essena O’Neill, an 18-year-old Australian internet celebrity, recently quit social media because she felt ashamed for presenting a fake image of herself to her thousands of online followers – most of whom were young girls. I credit her for giving us this reality check.
Why are we so concerned about likes, #goals, and perfection?
If you ever feel like you aren’t pretty enough, skinny enough, smart enough or whatever enough, let me be the first one to tell you that you ARE enough. In a world of nearly 7 billion people, you are the only one that has your unique DNA composition. You are the only you in this world and if that doesn’t make you step back in awe, then think about it some more.
Since we are naturally so unique, why do we keep buying into a consumer culture that seeks to define our identities for us? These ideas of “individuality” and “uniqueness” that marketers scream out actually encourage us to conform to the rest of the world. Clearly, we must all have an extreme fear of missing out… just take a look at how many MacBooks you see next time you’re in lecture, or how many Herschel backpacks you can spot in the hallways.
I’m not here to bash Apple, or Herschel, or any of that. I’m here to tell you that you are enough. Yes, set personal goals, or else you’ll find yourself going nowhere. But set realistic goals – goals that strive towards more than just hairstyles or your next relationship.
Work hard at making your life goals happen. Be happy with yourself and never settle for mediocrity. Surround yourself with friends that build you up and seek relationships in which you are respected – relationships that challenge you to be your best.
You don’t need goals. You ARE goals.
Rachel Wong is a Communications student at Simon Fraser University. She is a slam poem enthusiast, foodie, self-proclaimed music nerd and wannabe photographer. A regular contributor for Student Life Network, Rachel’s favourite thing to do in her spare time is write – anything from haikus to 6 minute long poems, posts on food or changing the world. Her goal in life is to make an impact and help to eliminate the social stigma around Depression and other mental health concerns, one word at a time. You can find more of Rachel’s work at http://rchlcwng.blogspot.com.