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. As such, you are pushing yourself to do things that simply aren't worth your time, or are worthwhile endeavours in principle, just not necessarily for you, personally.
Recognize something here?
It can be hard to step back and recognize the aspects of life that we have acclimatized to aren't always things 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, which 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.
But to bring you back to my line of argument at present.
Life isn't a competition. Repeat that to yourself. Say it aloud – it hits different. Now, say it and actually mean it. Know that, even though it feels like it, no one else is as hyper-aware or vigilant about what you're doing. We overanalyze ourselves and keep tabs on everything and always make sure that we punish ourselves if we are embarrassed or make a mistake. The truth is that not as many people are listening as we think there are. A lot of the voices were heard saying negative things about us are coming from our own heads.
And we all know the adage that 'if you wouldn't say it to your best friend, you shouldn't say it to yourself. The message is of course that we will always know ourselves better and know what we need and what it really is that we want. We should be our best friends because only we truly have our own interests at heart.
There's a few facts in life that generally see you through whatever it is that you're going through.
These facts of life begin and end with a Mumford and Sons song.
There's one called 'Guiding Light' that's absolutely great. If that's too on the nose for you, then I can also offer another foray into the back alley roster, 'Woman.' Failing all of that, then you really can't go wrong with 'I will wait' or the rip-roaring 'Little Lion Man.' I forget quite how many pure, unadulterated bops they have. Wow. Good for them.
Anyway, case and point. Now and then, we get stumped. Life gets a little bit of a lot. Work is tough. The family is stressful. Money is hard and always will be. I'm not going to pretend otherwise, nor would it be helpful too. Sometimes is often most times, occasionally, sometimes 'sometimes' is only ever once. When we feel so low that we forget we're still actually falling. Or worse still, when we forget that we aren't falling anymore. That's always an intensely loaded moment because how can you program from that? When, now that you've bracingly or passively endured something for so long, something different is expected of you. It's not wrong to have become acclimatized to that force.
For it to be so at once oppressive and yet alienatingly comforting.
A known force. A presence. While I say that there's nothing unusual about that, it doesn't necessarily stand to reason that it's a healthy long-term practice.
Therefore, let's give ourselves opportunities to empower ourselves. To thrive. Or, if thriving sounds too much like a biology plant lesson, just continue to exist. With a bit of water. Or a bamboo stalk to anchor ourselves. Maybe try to commemorate yourself somehow. Plants are great metaphors for mental health, though. Because although we all know that the flower is what people look at and catches their attention, the important part of a plant is the root. How deep it runs, through how many channels, and where it leads. Most importantly, it is the lifeblood of the plant itself and its neighbors and the community. To nourish each other on the block. In short: we love a plant moment. Do you address this gratuitously aside from my assembled wall of house plants?
Possibly, yes. What of it?
Sometimes we need a guiding light. Occasionally we want a plant. Mostly we need a friend. Talk to any of the above. If the plant responds, seek further help.
We need a moment for ourselves to break down. So that we can get back up again. You don't need social media to know. Tell a friend by all means. Or don't. this isn't a form of public self-care or commercialized emotional engagement.
This is just a release of all the nonsense we hold up in ourselves. It's not that deep.
But it's of insurmountable importance, make no mistake.