We’re All Ducks!

I can safely say each and every one of our lives is wonderful, full of adventure without a minute to spare. Success is always at our fingerprints, and we’re flourishing at all times. We’re constantly on the run, seeking out new adventures and always happy and optimistic about the future.

When we’re not, it’s always a positive learning situation where we can pull lessons out of our infrequent, darker moments.

This is why our Instagram feeds and Facebook timelines are full of smiles and interesting locations. This is why we’re always “doing just fine” to everyone else.

But wait.

Wait a minute, that’s not what life is like at all.

In fact, the majority of our lives are pretty boring: there’s not a whole lot exciting about doing homework or getting stuck in traffic commuting to and from work. Wiping down countertops or sitting through hour-long lectures are nothing to brag about, so why do we feel the need to advertise our lives as otherwise?

sunsetroad
A late night Kirksville drive into the sunset.

The term “Duck Syndrome”, coined by bloggers at Stanford University, is a condition in which you seem like you’ve got your life together — you’re steadfast, headstrong in every aspect, and nothing could shake you from your current trajectory of stability. We want to be seen as having the greatest time of our life, all the time. Our social media posts exemplify this best, and many people only want to share the good news.

Like ducks, although we might appear to be calm and serene on the surface, what’s below can tell a completely different story. We’re furiously paddling underwater to move around, trying to get every facet of our lives together, but we’re addicted to the positive feedback we get when

“Fake it, ’til you make it” is awful advice.

Lying to the people around you, whether consciously or not, is a terrible way to get by. We build ourselves up to be these stable individuals, so when life hits us with the difficult patches, we’re reluctant to break that false image already constructed.

Social media reinforces this false image, which is one of the reasons it is so harmful to the user. We’re rewarded every time we post a photo with likes and comments. A barrage of notifications allows us to soak in the dopamine wave that comes whenever our followers and friends give us their approval.

1000hills
Thousand Hills State Park. I’m sure there are ducks on this lake.

I used to be “that guy”, deleting photos that didn’t get a certain amount of likes, getting upset when friends didn’t comment, and resenting people that had more followers and friends because, in my head, I wanted to be admired as well.

On a daily basis, it would be a bragging race to see who was living the high life. After I ran out of stories from my life, I started searching for excitement in the nooks and crannies in life when there wasn’t any to be found. It was a competition for absolutely nothing.

Turns out, the majority couldn’t care less about what’s going on with you.

The amount of friends you have and likes you receive is not tantamount to your success in life or happiness. In fact, many could argue the opposite. Life is not a game of numbers.

Just as we should not look at the top 1% of Americans’ lifestyles to model our own, we should not turn towards the most exciting 1% of others’ lives to want to transcend. Somewhere, somehow, they’re having a rough time, tucking away the stresses and conflicts of life into a corner that they’ll address on their own.

Instead, exercise your freedom to reach out for help when you need it. Don’t feel like you’re a burden to the people around you; the ones who are truly your friends will be there through the thick and thin. Focus more on the valuable relationships in your life, forming deeper bonds with those close to you instead of seeking out satisfaction from an app on your phone.

So, do you think you have duck syndrome? Is it treatable?

Thanks for reading.

-LQH