“That’s so good that you’ve gone vegan – I was supposed to meal prep some vegan dinners after seeing a recipe on BuzzFeed but I went to the pub to meet this guy instead, bye bye summer body…Yeh the rugby guy, he’s gone quiet again though so I guess I’ll be eternally single hahaha… Yes still living in SW London, renting at the moment, I saw you and Joe have bought… amazing…”
This was one half of a conversation I overheard whilst waiting at the bar. This girl talking (let’s call her Hannah) just listed in quick succession to her friend (let’s call her Olivia) all of her insecurities, albeit disguised as flippant remarks and jokes.
My first thought was: “Come on Olivia, climb down from your ivory tower and say something reassuring to your friend…” My second thought was: “Oh lord, this sounds horribly familiar…”
My friends and I have exchanged words to this effect plenty of times, dissatisfied with our body image, love life, career, financial status, etc. These are areas where we desperately want to have our sh*t together, and yet it feels like an impossible juggling act. As soon as we get a grip on one area, we drop the ball on the other.
Being an adult is hard, and I feel like we make it harder by berating ourselves over every shortcoming. Personally speaking, I’ve struggled to fight the pressure to get everything in order before I hit the big 3-0 (which is in four months so ain’t gonna happen…)
I am getting there though, slowly, and here are a few things that have helped along the way:
1. I stopped talking so much sh*t about myself
The way we talk to ourselves can make or break our spirit. And once I began having therapy (shout out to my homegirl Jill) I realised I was talking myself down a lot of the time. Jill asked me how I spoke to the people closest to me when they experienced self-doubt. I said that I like to think I spoke to them with patience and kindness. Jill asked me why I wasn’t worthy of that same patience and kindness. I had nothing. Very obvious truth for many, but this was what they call “a lightbulb moment” for me…
Of course, it’s easier said than done when you have about 70,000 thoughts a day and cannot possibly control every single one. But I think you can spot a negative thought and stop it in its tracks before it becomes an avalanche of self-deprecation.
Practising mindfulness techniques using Headspace every day has honestly helped me become more wary of my thought processes. I have found myself more able to spot my negative self-talk in its infancy, making it easier to either turn the volume down or proactively turn it into a positive thought.
This can be a challenge when we are constantly at risk of being sucked into the social media cesspit of humble brags and targeted ads, which takes me to my next point…
2. I stopped comparing myself to everyone else
Every day I have to make a conscious effort to stop comparing myself to other people, and it takes a lot of work.
Typical case scenario: I’m looking on Instagram and their elusive algorithms decide to present me with a sponsored ad featuring some model clutching a bottle of branded cactus water on the beach. I start to think something along the lines of: “This girl probably earns more than I do in a year for these ads. And should I be drinking cactus water now? I only just got on board with coconut water… ”
Then I have to stop, take a step back and notice this thought forming and where it’s going, because then I have the chance to take it to a more rational place.
I remind myself that this type of comparison is a first world luxury and that I have so much more than billions of other people. And you know what? This model probably wants nothing more than to ditch the disgusting cactus water and wolf down a pizza but the world is watching them and their abs of steel. Meanwhile, no-one gives a tiny fuck if I put on a few pounds and above all, I don’t want that Instagram model’s life – I want pizza.
Nobody has everything, so comparing yourself to someone else is futile. Focus on your reality, and what you want from your life, which takes me to my last point…
3. I started being realistically ambitious
Being immersed in a world of seemingly perfect people can prompt us to set a bunch of unrealistic goals for ourselves, only to get frustrated and give up when we don’t reach them.
For example, last year I kept saying to myself: “Ok by 2019, I want to be a freelance writer, find a new hobby and gain at least one new skill for my CV. I also want to get on the property ladder. Oh, and I want to travel to at least two new places on my bucket list. But wait how’s that going to work if I’m saving for a house…” Then I would decide it was all too difficult and go for a nap.
But then I decided to stop looking at what everyone else was doing and make my goals better suited to the time and resource that I had at my disposal. I then prioritised the three most important ones, and that’s when my ideas started to gain momentum and become a reality.
In conclusion, wanting what other people have is a toxic habit and one we really need to relinquish if we are ever going to be happy. All we can do is focus on doing the best we can with what we’ve got, to create a life that we want. And that, my friends, is how you become ok with not having all of your sh*t together.