© Copyright 2010 CorbisCorporationSometimes reading my alumni magazines can make me depressed.

I’m just going to throw that out there.

Every now and then as the mail arrives, with it comes a brightly covered publication with someone smiling on the cover, ready to tell how great they are doing, loving what they do and how their time at the college made it happen.

And every time I get done flipping through the pages, I can’t help but think how easy they make it seem to be living the life they’ve dreamed, to be making a difference in the world, to be creating something.

I look at them and think ‘what have I been wasting my time doing?’

It can be a little depressing.

As I flip through the pages of each edition, there’s articles and notices like “John Smith has completed his fifth book, in stores now” or “Jane Doe is CEO of her own company that is changing the world and how we produce fuel.” “Jackie Smith (not related to John) is in Africa where she has been spear-heading an international effort to save the tigers while juggling her latest screenplay and a family of four.”

You never see “Dave is working in a small town, doing his best to make a dent in the student loans accumulated while at said school and trying to carve out a writing career in any small free seconds he has.”

So, once I got over the initial depression of it all, I started thinking and realized a lot of my feelings on this has to do with perception. In this digital age, perception is a very funny thing.

Someone once told me they could not stand someone we knew because it seemed like they had the absolute perfect little life…according to Facebook. However, the real world was not so much the case. However, that person’s misguided perception was the same one I had of all those I was seeing in the alumni magazine – because that’s what it’s there for. It is selling an image of the college as a place where success is bred. Flip through those pages and it will appear that everyone who goes there has walked out changing the world as we know it, just as the people we see on Facebook and social media appear to have everything going for them.

Why? Because in both cases, what we, the audience are seeing is the hand-picked thoughts, photos, and image that they want us to see. It’s like a Hollywood agent who handcrafts the persona of their client, only social media today has made everyone think they’re a celebrity.

If you continue to compare yourself to how we see others, you are comparing yourself to the unattainable because of our distorted perceptions.

The thing that matters is not the lives that others lead, or the ones they make us think they lead. It’s the lives WE choose to lead. Close the alumni magazines, shut off Facebook, and start living life as best you can. Whether the rest of the world sees it or not will not matter, because in the end, we’re all going to look back and want to know that we lived for US, not for countless friends who view us through cyberspace or a magazine and vice-versa.

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