Gratification, simply put, is a source of “pleasure, especially gained from the satisfaction of a desire.” Pleasure can come from many different avenues and impacts the dopamine levels of our brain. Recently I had a conversation with a friend about instant vs. delayed gratification that had me pondering on the topic.
My generation, Millennials, have been known to seek out/be keen to instant gratification because of various technologies that we have grown up using. For me, I see social media having the largest impact on myself in this capacity. The instant gratification of posting a great photo and obtaining likes is a continued lackluster feeling. I remember thinking to myself while I was running the marathon, “This would be my best post yet.” A part of my motivation was the source of approval from my friends and honestly, I hate that. I shouldn’t have to run a marathon or do something extreme to feel some sort of fulfillment from my friends and family. Yet I find myself wanting to live a life that people notice even though I think they’d notice a hell of a lot more in WHO I am, rather than WHAT I am doing. I’ve come to learn that the instant gratification of anything social media related has a lack of fulfillment and something as simple as a hug from someone has a much more profound, lasting effect.
While I was talking to my college roommate, Avery, I was describing my current situation as follows: I’ve loved the aspect of learning from people who share far different cultural norms, languages, and interests than me. I feel as healthy as ever from my running. I’ve learned far more about my own culture and what I love since being removed from it, yet I don’t feel a constant sense of pleasure/fulfillment at all. The ‘abroad’ life that so many people fantasize and see from photos is much different when you’re living it on a daily basis. I actually feel lonely and that I’m constantly having to put myself out there. The “get out of your comfort-zone” saying is far easier said than done. Avery went on to say that it sounded like I was experiencing delayed gratification. Right then, it hit me, that was exactly it and it was something I knew I needed to continue to learn how to tolerate. A fine wine or an expensive bottle of whiskey don’t just appear overnight - they take years to age to their pristine standard. The benefits of looking long-term in life are vital, yet it is so easy to be short-sided and wrapped up in the minuscule day to day things.
I know that long-term, this decision to move away from everything and everyone I know and love will shape me into a better version of myself. I’ve realized I need to do less talking about what I am doing and just start doing it. The gratification once I’ve completed a task or life achievement will be far greater than constantly just talking about it. Focus now, talk and celebrate later. Good things happen in the now, great things happen over time to those who endure and persevere.