Recently, I’ve come to appreciate LinkedIn. For a long time, LinkedIn merely served as a boring alternative to Facebook that it was socially acceptable to surf at work. Basically, it was boring and pretty trite (Why did you endorse me for Non-profits, boy I made out with once when I was a freshman in college?). However, a few years out from the first post-college job hunt, LinkedIn has developed a more entertaining and useful function in my life. Although if anyone has any suggestions for getting my family members to stop endorsing me, please let me know (C’mon Mom, I know you love me. How about I endorse you for “Nepotism?”).
Despite my “sales” role at work, I’m still really shy about adding people on LinkedIn. This means that my list of recommended connections/friends/pokes idk is mostly limited to people I went to college with, most of whom I only vaguely know. This is not really helpful from a networking perspective, however, it is helpful from a shine theory perspective.
Some of my college classmates are doing amazing things with their careers. Pursuing Underwater Basket Economics Ph.Ds. Teaching movement classes to kids in the Bronx. Working at nonprofits with a mission to educate, empower and inspire girls in rural Appalachia (heeyyy High Rocks!). Being moderately successful comedians. Working for cool media shit that I don’t have time to learn about.
When other Oberlin graduates shine, we all shine. It’s nice to see that many of my peers who felt so adrift a year or so ago, are settling into rewarding and interesting careers. I’m also settling into a rewarding and interesting career. We worked hard, and we deserved it.
Then there’s the less charitable side of the coin and the side of myself that I don’t like, but have to deal with anyway. There’s the side that sees former classmates who clearly just made up their job title because they are living in their parents’ basements. There are the people who have not flown after college, or at least not in the way that is able to be displayed on LinkedIn.
I see those people, and I let their fake job titles build me up on the days when I feel so envious of the friends working at Vice, having time to make art or music and gaining some sort of artistic reputation that I could puke. The days when I’m like “Skiing and mountains and biking and living in a place that I really like are cool and all, but I could be living in New York City and writing for Gawker right now, who cares if I would like my life a little less.” These are the days where I feel that if I can’t shine in a noticeable and unique way, then no one else should be able to either. So the evidence that you’re an unpaid intern at your mom’s real estate firm makes me feel better about myself. Because I am a flawed person who is trying and frequently failing to do the best with the personality I’ve got, which is flawed, often envious and requires consistent affirmation from other people that I am not doing something wrong.
And then I feel guilty, because I’m jealous of you and I wonder if I’m a narcissist who needs constant praise and/or possibly a sociopath because why not throw that into the mix when I’m considering all of my inner flaws.
And then I realize that that’s kind of navel-gaze-y and shitty and being navel-gaze-y and shitty is not my MO, plus I have work to do tomorrow and need to make myself dinner and maybe go on a run. My self-diagnosis of narcissism will have to wait, because there are other things I need to worry about. Like climate change and the Supreme Court and if the person who rents my house after I move will enjoy the daffodils.
Being busy is the best cure for navel-gazing.
So LinkedIn will wait and I will talk to my therapist about my simultaneous need to stand out and fit in for 50 minutes the following week. I’ll continue to rejoice in your new record label and your custom suiting company (hello, Kipper Clothiers), your masters in education and your sweet job in Silicone Valley. I’m sorry I didn’t watch your web series or read your article yet. I’ll get around to it eventually. I’ll remind myself that I did give a presentation at Google, and try not to do it as an exchange for my jealousy or to make myself feel superior. Instead I’ll do it because I really do like my job. Keep on shining. Eventually my scratchy interior may catch up.