Laptop Stickers

Hey, y’all!

Long time, no blog.  I can blame it on nothing other than the craziness of life and the mulling over of this topic.

Stick with me here on this observation- I am sitting in a Starbucks at 10:30pm right now, beginning to write this post and looking around at all the laptops.  I see some people with cool band stickers on their laptops, I see some with cartoon graphic stickers, I see some with artistic stickers, I see some with club and organization logos, and I even see some bare laptops as well.

Flashback to the craziness of this past summer- I found myself writing a blog post about Hokie Superstars. I’ll be honest- I had no idea what phenomenon I was truly talking about while writing it. I had started to notice awesome, stand out people on campus and the post was simply an observation and opinion about collegiate leadership based on these “Superstars.”

Nine months later, and I am still observing and attempting to understand the “leadership fast track” that occurs in universities. One aspect of this phenomenon are the laptop stickers I referenced earlier.

Typically, when you receive an acceptance into a student organization or get involved in a club or group, it quickly comes with a sticker.  A legit physical, sticker that you can choose to place wherever your heart desires! It has become a trend in a lot of colleges to put this sticker on your laptop.  Right on the front, so if anyone looks in your direction they first see your stickers on display and then look past the screen and see your face.


I think on a surface level this occurs simply because it is “trendy”, it promotes groups on campus well, it decorates plain laptops, and if you have stickers, you might as well place them somewhere.  

But on a deeper level, these stickers start become the definition of who we are.  Every single time you sit at your laptop in a dining hall, on campus, or at home, your laptop is physically in front your face.  Whatever you choose to put on your laptop is seen before your own face is seen.  We subconsciously put people into categories, based on decals, that represent student groups,  interests, or expressions and judge them based on those stickers.

I am in no way advocating for everyone to go rip these stickers off of their laptops- I am completely guilty of having sticker decals all over the back of my laptop.  But, I think this is a phenomenon that we need to think harder about.

When we first get into organizations- why is our immediate thought about subtly broadcasting it via stickers?  Why do we find value in creating this presentation of ourselves on a laptop? Why are we terrified to have blank laptops? Why do these stickers matter so much to us?

I know for me it is because I find ultimate fulfillment in people thinking that I am “enough.” That I do enough, that I serve enough, that I am involved enough, that I try enough, that I am ENOUGH.  For me, these “stickers” are a way to prove myself.  Before, someone even looks at my face they can see that I am enough, that I have proven myself, and I am somehow valuable.

These personas we put up- laptop cases filled with stickers proving ourselves serve as a way to boost our image and our surface level worth. They serve as a self-preservation, defense mechanism to show the world a perfect, involved, exciting version of ourselves before they even look over the laptop screen and see our faces.

So, figuratively what happens when you don’t have stickers to fill on your laptop? When you have a blank space after getting out of organization? Or you don’t have all the stickers you want at that moment? Or you didn’t get the sticker you really worked hard for?

At that point, I find myself buying to the lie that I am less valuable, I am less needed, I am less cool, I am less known and that I matter less than the people behind the laptops layered with stickers.  

If we buy into the lie, we will always end up disappointed.  There will always be someone that has more stickers than you, there will always be someone who has less. Over time, those stickers will fade, they will become less exciting,  we will be on our next search for more stickers, and we will continue to fall asleep at night feeling like there was more value to be achieved and more stickers to be won.

It’s a never-ending cycle of the search for achieving value and purpose in stickers that will never give you more meaning or satisfy you. What we fail to remember is that Value and Purpose have nothing to do with achievement.  There is nothing that you can do, nothing that you can get involved in, nothing more you can join, no better way to present yourself that will make you more valuable and important than you are at this very second.

I encourage you to be excited about stickers- whatever that may mean for you.  I hope you do get to cover your laptop in stickers that will get you pumped about the stage of life that you are in.  But, I urge you to remember that they do not define your worth, they do not make you more valuable or needed in your community, and they will not make you ultimately satisfied when your head hits your pillow tonight.

Your stickers are phenomenal, but who you are while sitting around campus once someone looks past the stickers on the front of your laptop is what gives you true value.

Much Love,

Hadley Carter {happy hc}


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