1 in 4 people in gen z want to be an influencer for their career. I read that statistic from somewhere recently and I am not surprised. Lately, and I’ve been feeling this for a long time. Influencers are trying to get your follows, trying to get sponsorship deals and trying to make this their job. I don’t see anything wrong with this exactly. I do think there is a big difference between wanting to genuinely help people with your influence vs. trying to become “famous” and live in the world in this way.
It is tough out there trying to find a job or a career you want. I’m very much a Zillennial (tail end of millennials, and not quite gen z). I do see the appeal of wanting to be an influencer, regular jobs don’t pay enough. It’s creative, and you get to be your own boss. I’ve even seen the beauty of it. But also, I wouldn’t want most of my life to be on display in order to get views.
There was a trending sound on Instagram recently where a woman’s voice sings:
“Everything is content… don’t forget to film it”
This illustrates my point perfectly. If you want followers and views, you need to try to showcase everything and anything in your life to try to make that happen. But is it necessary to have to share every detail of your life in order to make a living?
Ever since I was in high school, I had no idea what I wanted my career to be. I have spent countless hours trying to figure out what it is that would suit my personality and interests. I wanted to find something I would be passionate about. I wanted to make sure that decision is right.
But I have also fallen into the trap of being so indecisive and unable to commit to a career path or college major. I read job descriptions and think, “I don’t wanna be doing that for the rest of my life, so that’s out.” Or I would watch a “day in a life of a ________” on YouTube and just be so unsatisfied with what I saw.
I wanted a career where I could really help people 1 on 1 or in a group, and really meet their needs to change their lives. I didn’t want to be stuck in a school teaching or in a cubicle (both of which I have ended up doing at different times). I didn’t know exactly what that meant for me, or what kind of job would give me that. But I knew I wanted it. As a result, I’ve changed my college major from social work to physical therapist assistant, psychology, marketing, hospitality management, event planner, and back to psychology (which is what I’ve settled on). I’m making myself be satisfied with this decision, so I just graduate college already! Ha.
The truth is, ever since I have taken my first yoga teacher training course, I’ve had this love affair with the idea of being a yoga teacher for a living. It’s perfect, I thought. I can help people to feel better through yoga, and I could incorporate my fascination of spirituality into my work. But this is where the intersection of a career and being an influencer cross, and I don’t particularly like this.
The majority of people think of a yoga teacher as a person with bleach-blonde hair, perfectly fit body, nails perfectly manicured-type Instagram influencer person. You almost have to be like this in order to make teaching yoga work. But really, yoga for me isn’t a workout or an exercise program. Yoga is about healing yourself. It’s about reflection and meditation. Yoga is about coming home to yourself. The poses aren’t for show, they are really for you.
But, in my experience that is incredibly hard to convince people of. Especially if you are just on instagram or tiktok. People who follow yoga teachers on social media expect to see the teacher in tight or skimpy clothing, twisting themselves into knots in front of the camera.
For me, I refuse to do this because of two reasons. One, this is not why I practice yoga, so why would I want to do this on social. Two, I have had a lot of body insecurities throughout my life, and even the thought of putting myself on display like this causes me anxiety. I also feel I shouldn’t have to present myself in this way in order to make a living.
Ok, so that’s not the way.
In the intersection of the “perfect career” and influencer culture, I keep coming back to this idea of life purpose. Even if you are in the right career and you are doing well, what if you just don’t feel fulfilled in life? What if “doing” is not enough?
I think my quest for the perfect career in many ways was actually me looking for my life purpose. I want to feel as if my life means something, and that I could actually help people in some way. What has been sold to me here in the United States is the idea that your career is your life purpose. That your work and what you do for money needs to be the thing that defines your life. Your resume is THE proof that you have been worth it this whole time.
I am still in the middle of dismantling these beliefs, and I am trying to figure out a way to balance being able to provide for myself and also just living my life. I personally don’t really want to be an influencer, but I want to influence people. I don’t just want a career, I want a fulfilling life. And I’m still navigating what that looks like.
There’s this concept of “new earth” that comes up every now and again in the spiritual community. I don’t think new earth is about everyone being influencers, or about everyone having this huge resume full of work accomplishments. How I see it is the community coming together. Local community. Collaboration and reaching out to one another. Instead of us being so separate seeing each other’s lives through screens, maybe we could just talk face-to-face instead. Part of me thinks that this is impossible, and that technology is the way. But I’m starting to entertain the idea of this type of community building on the local level, rather than everyone trying to advertise and market to each other all the time.
Really, I believe that if everyone refused to do work that was draining to them and not aligned with their purpose, then the world would be a very different place. There may not be these huge world-wide corporations anymore. Instead, there would be local communities collaborating and exchanging services. There would be local businesses and artisans serving their communities. Wouldn’t you love to buy food from someone local? Wouldn’t you love to walk into a shop full of clothes that your neighbor designed herself? Maybe this is all wishful thinking, but I can’t help but think about it from time to time. It’s not about trying to get enough money. It’s about making sure everyone has enough.
I know our own thoughts create our reality, so maybe it’s me that needs to get out into my community, rather than being so focused on the internet.