Self-Reflection in the immediate gratification age


Art credit- NicktheRat
Art credit- NicktheRat

In this new year I can’t help but to absorb the reflective mood, the mood that aggregates and reviews various experiences and events. From the top movies to the top books, to the most defining political moments. As people chronicle their every moment, over-reporting, at times over-sharing from the quotidian – facebook status updates of what one is imbibing over dinner to the most recent birthday/wedding/anniversary/baby birth etc. (insert default milestone here) they feel compelled to “share” moments constantly. With the immediate gratification provided as others comment on what you share, providing explicit validation, it becomes challenging to discern where reflective energy should be directed -to those
“E-Z insta-moments ” or to impactful moments that are meaningful in the greater life trajectory.(but may not fit the framework of the social network model of tweeting, instragraming etc.)

Can you get lost in a whirl of reportage of the everyday and forget to reflect on those times that may not fit into a certain social norm yet still hold intimate significance?

Amidst the zeitgeist of self-reflection I stumbled upon letters that people wrote to themselves. A letter that a woman writes to her child-less self or the letter that Susan Sontag wrote to herself as a twenty-something, imagine reading that years later.

Here is a recent favorite:

Immediately before turning 24 on January 16, 1957, Sontag produces the following list, a blend of the pragmatic and the aspirational:

Rules + duties for being 24

1. Have better posture.
2. Write Mother 3 times a week.
3. Eat less.
4. Write two hours a day minimally
5. Never complain publicly about Brandeis [University] or money.
6. Teach [SS’s toddler son] David to read.

Then, several weeks later, Sontag resolves:


1. Criticize publicly anyone at Harvard –
2. Allude to your age (boastfully, mock-respectfully, or otherwise)
3. Talk about money
4. Talk about Brandeis


Shower every other night
Write Mother every other day

Ok my turn:


1. Be prepared with fun games and songs when picking up your toddler niece from day care. They become little people so fast with all these questions and requests.

2. Plan on building out a team of mentors/ board of directors who can share their career experiences with you.

3. Be honest with yourself and your responses even when it reveals a weakness/vulnerability in you.

4. Institute a “day-off”, (or at least a time block, 3 -6 hours) with the sole objective of focusing on your own pursuits. (no work or school work allowed only what truly makes you happy.) Thank you Adaptation, favorite quote from the movie was ” You are what you love, not what loves you.”

5. Travel with friends. There are many new things to learn about the people you thought you already knew well when put in a novel context. Going to Mexico with my friends in 2013 felt like I was building a deeper relationship and revealed more common interests while enjoying some of the best conversations I have had this year.

6. Documents the memento moments, those times that will never quite be the same way again, even if it feel cliche or cheesy in the moment. Marvel at the magic of photography. ” To collect photographs, is to collect the world.” – Susan Sontag

7. Keep up with friends during busy periods by having regular dinner dates.


1. Leave a Final Research Paper or studying to the last minute.

2. Develop age-o-phobia and fall into the age trap of youth being valued in society over many other things.

3. Be so grumpy in the morning that smiling is off the table. Marf.

4. Miss out on going to the Banya for more than 4 months.

I am inspired to develop mine more as well but for now the things that I have taken note of.


You may also like...