Does seeing high achievers bring you down?

FaySchopen of The Guardian has written about how seeing or rather hearing about the high-flying over-achievers like Mark Zuckerberg can make us feel really inadequate and put pressure on us to aim high, set continuous targets for ourselves and conquer the world or else fade into insignificance.How has the in your face, up to the minute influx of celebrity coverage affected how young people think though? Having worked in education for 15 years, I can tell you that many of the young media students I met were convinced that they were going to finish their A-levels or vocational qualification in Media Studies, get a place at university and become the next Francis Ford Copolla or whoever their legendary film director of choice was, So many young people aspire to celebrity and great wealth – it’s almost as if you’re nobody unless you’re worth a packet and everybody knows your name.Is there really anything so wrong with simply wanting to do a job that allows you to put a roof over your head, enjoy some freedoms to take a break, have children if you want to and pay your bills? The pressure that is piled on young people now to ‘be something’, ‘make something of themselves’ has perhaps been distorted by internet coverage and social media, but also by those stories which seem to draw on the ‘expertise’ of celebrities, the authority of which has no other basis than that..their celebrity.The danger is that some young people will be put off trying, believing misguidedly that if they don’t have what it takes to be a go-getting over-achiever then what’s the point?Like it or not the majority of the population will not be the next Mark Zuckerberg or Francis Ford Copolla and in striving to be that we might miss a genuine opportunity for happiness – a job that switch off from in the evening, the privacy of being anonymous and like Ms Schopen, the freedom to wear of PJs all day if we want to. Not being the next big thing is not underachievement – living your life constantly feeling that you are not satisfied with yourself, for whatever reason (you don’t have Kylie’s bottom, Tom Cruise’s incredible capacity for staying young or Mark Zuckerberg’s billions) is a sure way to make yourself miserable. Imagine how great it could feel to be able to say ‘hell, yeah – I rock at data input, I know how to balance my work and home life – I feel good.’In the words of Fay Schopen “It’s OK to be a mortal.”

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