Aliko Dangote, wealthiest black person in the world, with a net worth of $14 billion. You’re sitting there wondering, “But, how?” Is he a famous Rapper? Did he go viral on YouTube? Is he an Instagram Influencer? Nope. None of the above. He is a Nigerian business magnate, who invested $3,000 at 21 years old, into what is now his multinational industrial conglomerate, Dangote Group. We spend on average, 5 years and 4 months in a lifetime on social media. Facebook is at the top of the list, and Instagram following, as most popular social media networks occupying our time. Can you imagine the amount of productivity we could get done in 5 years? While we could be reading, building, learning a new technique, perfecting our gift, we’re obsessing over half-naked Instagram models, and glorifying rappers who throw bands of money in the air for fun. To save our youth from falling into the pattern of seeking only exaggerated lifestyles and typical careers, we’ll have to introduce them to what our digital society has not. There are countless options for making a name for yourself in a lucrative career, without losing yourself or settling for less. It’s about time that you discover who you are, not what the world wants you to be.

Why Chase False Dreams, When Your Real Ones Can Be More Fruitful?

Growing up, at some point we all had that one friend who would say “Ball Is Life”, I was that friend. My idols were athletes, I’d workout and train daily until I was blue in the face. I was driven by the possibility that like Kevin Durant or Victor Oladipo, who came from Prince George’s County, I too could become a millionaire as a professional athlete. Basketball was my passion but deep down, I knew that it wasn’t my purpose in life. 

Though my sports aspirations ended when I got to college, I still had friends who were redshirting freshman year, putting all of their eggs into one basket just to get a shot   at the pros. Those same friends saying “I’m still trying to make hoop dreams”, all throughout college, were the same ones who ended up jobless, wasted their college experience chasing a basketball dream because of the way it’s sold in the media. If they had only put that energy into exploring other options for careers, they’d be able to see new possibilities. I wasn’t always educated on other ways to “make it to the top” besides sports. Yes, my parents’ government careers allowed us to live comfortably, but it all seemed pretty boring to me. I had to take a step outside of my surroundings and recognize what I enjoy and what was going to be good for me in the long run.

“Making it to the NFL was my biggest dream, but time is our greatest asset. While waiting for the callback, I decided to get back into school, this IT field is more assuring than the NBA or NFL, which will only last until you blow out your knee or they find someone better.”

-Danny Nwosu, Needles SQL Database Developer, Former Colorado St. Football Player

This cycle is stunting growth and robbing young people from discovering their full potential in society and in the world.

For Danny, being an educated minority in tech turned out to be a very rewarding direction to take. All it takes is seeing someone like you, thriving in an industry, to show that you can do it too. Don’t limit yourself when you hit those roadblocks, it only means you have to take a different avenue to get the results you want.

Are You ONLY Doing It “for the Gram”? 

Let’s face it, our generation is fixated on the power of getting “likes”. These social networks set it up to where people can share their lives and their interests, in which the rest of the world either likes it or they don’t, and the results are made public. The only negative outcome is when you see the lives of other people, and their posts are getting recognition. The common solution? Do what they are doing to get that same praise and adoration. Yet, the people you see in those places you want to be, doing the things you want to do, aren’t showing their downfalls or shortcomings. These “Influencers” are paid to paint the picture that their reality is one without lows, only wins. They’re claiming that the only way you’re going to make it in life is if you purchase this jewelry, buy these clothes, spend, spend, spend, until you are living this perfect life like them. What about your life? 

Our younger generation is easily influenced by trends and the material things showcased on social media because they are still figuring out their own lives.

At this vital time when direction and leadership is needed, they are only brainwashed by rappers, celebrities and Instagram models. Although social media has commanded the attention of millennials, we cannot forget about our own interests and obligations for happiness. 

“I realized how lives are being changed while I’m at Microsoft, we’re making sure that everyone has an opportunity and that speaks to my heart. I don’t get wrapped up in social media, because it has no longevity and cannot be passed down. You have to focus on your passions, without passion there’s no success.”

-Diamond Womack, Microsoft Commercial Executive and Realtor

Make sure you’re contributing to the world, without expecting the acceptance of your peers. 

I know you don’t see the reward right now, but everything good that you do today is either going to benefit you or someone else later on down the line.

SUCCESS IS A MENTALITY, NOT A NUMBER SCALE

If you’ve identified your calling in life by now, you are already winning. You could love sports, be an aspiring actress or singer, or you could just want to be famous one day.

When pursuing your dreams, you have to understand that there will be multiple possible outcomes, and you have to have a plan set forth when/if things don’t work out as expected.

Of course, on these social platforms, your friends and peers only share the positive highlights of their lives, but trust that they have struggled too. Life is not always going to be filled with glamour, you can’t put a filter on your failures. You just have to dust off the losses and prepare to do the work to get the wins.

There is 0.0086% of the world deemed “famous”, this notability has so many factors, proving that almost no one is famous. These same people are forced to say, think, and do certain things that they don’t even believe in. Lucky for you, you can create your own destiny, write your own story to the world. People coming out of college assume that everything is supposed to be set up for you afterwards, but there’s beauty in the transition into learning what excites you and being able to act on it.   

“Covering and sharing stories that need to be told is a constant reminder that I love what I do. Take a step back to enjoy life for a little bit, everything comes from real life experiences. This is the time, while you’re young, for trial and error.”

-Alexis Wainwright, News Reporter

There’s so much more to life than social media, don’t lose yourself trying to become something that you aren’t. Focus on YOUR purpose for now. Take pride in who you are, the right people will love it.