We have so much to relearn. Anxieties about what other people around us are doing are where much of this stems from.
Sit down, make a brew and let me explain why, younglings
Life isn't a game that can be won or lost based on some arbitrary social markers. More than that, you can't 'succeed' in life by living your life on someone else's terms. Or indeed, by living someone else's life. Simply doing what you think you ought to be doing won't always bring you satisfaction, in fact, it will rarely coincide with things that you yourself actually prioritize. Because of this, you will soon realize that the things around you that are offering the illusion of 'self-care' and 'self-improvement' are causing you undue stress. This is because the pressure that you put on yourself to achieve them isn't proportional or tempered by your emotional investment.
Look around and find a giver in a relationship
As such, you are pushing yourself to do things that simply aren't worth your time, or are worthwhile endeavors in principle, just not necessarily for you, personally. Recognize something here?
You shouldn't always have to be giving in a relationship. Other people need to put the effort in. Not just in romantic but platonic situations. You have to let yourself heal.
It can be hard to step back and recognize the aspects of life that we have acclimatized to aren't always things that we deserve to experience. We are often faced with the startling discovery that there is more to life than we know in our current experiences. There are pancake houses that we didn't know existed. Friends that live around the corner who we never realized lived so close. Even going to the park in the afternoon on a dog walking day and seeing so many Chihuahuas that you thought you might die of cuteness.
We all have that one friend that is too successful for her own good
Getting hung up on other people also doesn't help you. To heal and retain a good sense of self, you need to step away from this mindset.
You know the type, there's always one in a friendship group. They have the best job, the most ambitious career prospects, the strongest relationship, and the most interesting hobbies. They give the illusion of effortlessness, but I have some news for you.
Be the bigger person: don't fight fire with fire.
There are so many self-care or self-help books out there that operate under the guise of improving us. Of elevating our identity and crystallizing into something more ideologically secure, consistent, and productive. There are so many means of approaching ways to improve our emotional wellbeing, mental health, physical fitness, and overall social prospects. It can get super overwhelming. You aren't alone in thinking that. Particularly when entering the office of your guidance counselor in high school when the walls were pasted top to bottom with naff inspirational posters and placards. 'It's not about the destination, it's about the journey'. Or 'things that are hard are worth fighting for'.
The old faithful: 'Life isn't a competition'
I promise you, deleting all the celebrities and people you don't care about on social media makes all the difference. I did it last month and honestly can't remember who I even got rid of. That's how little they were adding to my life. You don't remember what you can't see - out of sight out of mind. That's the way we like it. You can heal without things constantly opening the wound every day. Be kind to yourself, recognize what you can gain from losing the toxic parts of your life.
Honestly, I'm sure all of these epithets are true, but that's not to say that there isn't more informative, helpful advice out there. Like, there's a reason the clichés exist – because they're solid – but I can do better.
So I ask you, my implied audience, a question. What's gold dust?
The art of not caring.
I know it can be hard and may sound harsh and alien to 'not care', but it's not suddenly like you will overnight cease to have a functioning heart.
But there comes a point when everyone has to embody this attitude to heal from the past year. We all need to be able to not care and step back without leaving half of ourselves behind. No one can exist publicly all their life.
Even if you're just taking a week off social media. Or you don't engage with an online troll. Or walk away from a toxic relationship.
Step away, and grow. You're worth it.