quality / quantity
This is something I feel like I’ve struggled with for a long time. But, like all things that our parents warned us about over the years, it took learning the hard way to fully grasp the impact.
The mentality of ‘quality over quantity’ applies to myriad things in life. The biggest things I struggle with include:
Growing up, popularity – and likeability – seemed to a) be mutually exclusive and b) based on numbers. The number of birthday party invitations, playdates, people in your carpool, etc. Then, it evolved into the number of followers, ‘likes’, 21st birthdays, people on your spring break, bridesmaid dresses. The more, the better — but, is it?
Sometimes I wish I could write a PSA that likeability isn’t numbers based. Some of the most well-liked people I know don’t try for the perfect instagram, receive endless numbers of texts, or act smugly about their loaded social calendar. Being a good person, practicing self-care and pursuing things you’re passionate about can’t (or at least, shouldn’t) be determined by how many followers you have or blips are on your radar. I feel overwhelmed sometimes trying to keep up with this invisible digital-social-unspoken arms race.
I’m so guilty in this department. When I was younger, it was the number of activities. Now, it’s evolved to the number of plans for a weekend, likes on a photo (sad, I know), or things I can use to sort-of justify myself in a certain context. I was part of so many different clubs, extracurriculars, jamming so much onto the calendar in high school and college. Now that free time, vacation time and, frankly, energy levels are limited, I’m realizing that the numbers game is just a sure fire way to lose in the long run.
The number of times I’ve said “why did I do this again?” to myself after an insane week, says a lot. I am terrible about trying to squeeze a million things into one day, often wasting my energy and not being as present as I should be. I was recently reminded that things evolve… and that that’s okay. Especially right now, in this season of life, things look so very different for everyone. There are people still considering their options, people trying to live the way we did in school, people with jobs and engagement rings. This full spectrum makes it hard sometimes to stop playing the comparison game.
The idea of quality friends, supporters, investments of time and money has become more and more appealing to me than quantity. After pining over college in my mind, it was good for me to go to homecoming and feel a sense of closure, confident in my decisions to move to New York, take a challenging job, and settle into a new lifestyle… not quite “adulthood,” but a little upgrade from getting Jimmy Johns delivered to my oversized t-shirt and leggings-clad self in the library late at night. It was so nice to see sweet friends and remember how special Tuscaloosa is to me… and it also brought the feeling that my time there, in that sense, really is complete. Back in NY, I’m thinking that if our 20s are the time to be selfish, then I’m going to selfishly invest my energy and time in causes, organizations and people I prioritize, who prioritize me. It’s time to try breaking my chronic over-scheduler / eager beaver ways and think about the [fulfilling] big picture.