I am guilty. I always catch myself doing it, and I constantly question myself, “why can’t I just stop?” I am addicted. It has become a part of my subconscious and has led to so many unnecessary issues. Stress is something that can be overwhelming and exhausting if you don’t manage it regularly. And believe me, you’ll feel guilty for having another breakdown because you let your stress consume you. The good news is that it is within your control to manage your stress and embracing the world of memes is one such way of doing so, which I have embraced whole-heartedly. Memes are photographs shared with embellished text designed to poke fun at human behavior or an idea or ourselves. It is a great way to “laugh it off” and break free of stress for many people including myself.
I’m guilty of constantly stressing.
Always stressed about the next assignment, how my internship will turn out, what will happen after graduation, and what will happen after that. I even catch myself stressing about what will happen in my personal life, about what happens in my next free time, and I don’t fully understand why.
I had first heard the term while going through sorority recruitment, otherwise known as rush. The girl I was speaking to said she was a “stressor” and asked me if I was too. I didn’t know how to respond. As far as I knew, I wasn’t the only one. My friends and sisters are constantly stressed, about schoolwork, social events, career choices, what to eat, and even what to wear. Her casual remark made me realize, we have created a generation of “stressors.” While this concept is not something that is brand new, I feel that our generation is one that struggles to manage this stress regularly. I’m not sure if it’s the rise of social media, increased competition in the job market or technology which brings this new level of stress on millennials, but it has definitely increased compared to older generations. Our age groups’ constant stress could also be the reason we are so addicted to viewing and recreating memes. Older generations may not understand our obsession with the meme of Arthur’s fist, Spongebob mocking meme, or misused stock photos- but I think we can all agree it is our addiction, especially in times of stress.
As our obsession with memes, my parents are also amazed at how stressed I and my sisters have become about everything, even the fun parts of life. They’re baffled that our generation finds it so natural to put so much pressure on ourselves at such a young age. I hadn’t noticed how normalized it had become until my mom had found me stress-crying over the future and confused why I was so immensely worried. It was the start of summer, and I was wasting a beautiful, Seattle summer day, making myself upset. I was crying over what will happen in my career path- while I had not even begun my senior year of college. I remember feeling confused as to why my mom was not freaking out- I thought this was normal. My mom, utterly confused and probably thinking I’m ridiculous, gently reminded me that I still had plenty of time, and although I should start considering my career- it’s not worth becoming unhealthily upset over.
Although it’s become much more difficult to succeed professionally, and we have new social challenges our parents didn’t have- they too remember the struggles of being a young adult and “not knowing.” They also remember how much fun it is to be a college student, with few things that are actually worth stress-crying over. College is the supposed “best years of your life,” so why don’t we feel this way?
It’s crucial to be aware of and manage stress
Over-working and worrying ourselves to death have become so normalized, we don’t notice when we are experiencing this behavior ourselves or when our loved ones are struggling with it. Stressing is normal behavior, and even a good thing at times because it shows that you are passionate about your success and personal life. While stress can be normal, managing your stress in a healthy way is crucial. I think the cause of most people’s stress is the ease of becoming so caught up in “what’s next,” causing us to forget to enjoy what’s great and happening right now. Whenever I feel overwhelmed, I always find myself gravitating towards the Twitter app. Not to read current news, keep up with celebrities, or to subtweet people- but to find a ridiculously funny meme to relax my mind. And, to send to my friends and hope to make them laugh. Now that I’ve found a photo of the world’s largest pan of pasta, captioned “Me cooking pasta just for me,” I’m on to find the next hilarious meme. It’s an addiction- I’m never satisfied after seeing just one good meme.
A generation with a meme addiction
Lacking control over your stress can be dangerously unhealthy for our minds and bodies- but thankfully, we are also the generation of memes. The ridiculous fad that Generation Z has practically been raised on, became addicted to and is rightfully so- proud of.
All memes are a symbol of something greater.
Whether it’s a dog wearing a wig or a classic re-purposed stock photo, memes are a symbol of all that is good in life. They’re a reminder to loosen up, laugh more and to put aside your worries. When I catch my brows furrowed and a list of future to-do’s forming, I try to look at a meme. If you are a habitual worrier with a sense of humor like me, you’ll make a meme your screensaver or invest in a ridiculous phone case. It’s probably weird or feels silly, but it really does work. Whether I am mid-homework or making yet another list, and I happen to catch a glimpse of a ridiculous meme, I can’t help but smile. Yes, they’re juvenile and mindless, but memes have the power to relieve or maybe make you forget about your stress, even if it’s for a short time. My father- a stern, hard-working, orthodox Indian man, can’t help but let out a giggle when he sees the chihuahua wearing a wig on my phone case. I had thought the frown on my dad’s face was permanently stuck, until I had shown him my favorite meme.